the Line Bewteen Winning and Losing

When people get into conflict, they usually want to “win”. It is human nature. But as the conflict unfolds, the idea of what winning actually is tends to change. It becomes difficult at times to assess where the line between “winning” and “losing” is. And therefore, it becomes difficult to figure out how to resolve things.

For this reason, conflicts can morph into a “fight to the death”. Our history is replete with examples of this. Recently, we have the incredible First World War of the 29th century. A war that could not be ended, but that consumed millions of lives for reasons that were at best obscure. And while some thought it was “thank the Lord” over, it morphed into an even worse second global conflict. That morphed into the cold war. Good Lard!

So if you wish to manage conflict, it is wise to understand that conflict is a fire that feeds on itself. It may not need new fuel for a long, long time. And even when the fire is put out, the embers glow hot far beyond what would be expected.

For that reason, smart conflict managers define carefully what is not required in order to “win”. They zero in on what is required and take no more than that. That is a challenge when folks have not carefully considered the question. Some might call it creating an “exit strategy”. And we hear this phrase a lot in terms of military interventions. “What is the exit strategy?” But it applies more broadly. We always need to decide how to move on from the conflicts we live with.

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