From childhood conflicts to boardroom brawls, it seems humanity is hardwired for heated conflict. But does people’s propensity to disagree spell doom to collaboration and cooperation? Not at all, argues digital marketing expert Michael Brown. In this highly readable book, Brown delves into the science and sociology of interpersonal conflict. Using examples he draws from a rich array of experts as well and his own personal experiences, Brown offers practical steps for understanding and solving key obstacles to consensus.
Cooperation is possible if you consider your motivations, embrace clarity and acknowledge “attribution bias.”
Most people have nearly 90,000 disagreements with others before the age of 10. Disagreement is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. How you manage a conflict will determine whether the outcome is positive, however.
One 2006 study of childhood squabbles between siblings showed that when parents or study directors helped siblings engage in “collaborative problem-solving,” 42% of disagreements ended in compromise. This shows that it’s possible to learn to disagree in ways that don’t result in simmering tension or one party ending up “the loser.”
The root causes of altercations remain the same after you reach adulthood. One cause is that you employ “attribution bias” to identify others, rather than yourself, as the source of any given conflict.
Another cause of disagreements is that you can’t see an opponent’s perspective as valid. When aiming to fight well, make sure you understand your opponent’s position clearly, and that he or she understands yours.
A 1998 study about negotiation showed that people often overestimate the clarity of their arguments...