Conflict Management

The Value Zodiac was originally developed to analyze why so often we seem to arrive at impasses.

I have observed that far too many people do not identify with people they disagree with.  Conflict is healthy.  It is the genesis of growth and innovation, but it is the dehumanization of the opponent that is most damaging to constructive dialogue.  It is my hope that by highlighting the diversity of human values that each of us carries into our disagreements.  Although I have no illusions that these fundamental disagreements will be resolved, it would be of great help for adversaries across debates become more humanized in the minds of their opponents.

We frequently consider the topic of diversity in our organizations and workplaces. We sometimes only recognize diversity in the superficial categories of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and ethnicity. To an extent, this is done because it is promoted socially, and is relatively easy to evaluate. Far too little attention is often paid to intellectual diversity. In fact, the diversity of ideas and of thought is likely to be more valuable. No doubt, many believe that racial, sexual and ethnic diversity often leads to a diversity of thought and ideas. However, these superficial expressions of diversity do not often lend themselves to intellectual diversity. If we really care about diversity, we should direct our organizational systems to promote intellectual diversity to the same extent as other aspects of diversity.

dome int w b 300x272 Conflict Management

Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

I have an engineer’s training. This gives me the capacity to try to represent ideas using analogies from the physical world. When I look at the Value Zodiac and what it means for human interaction, it reminds me of a dome. One can picture the domes of the capital rotunda in Washington DC or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. For those of you who may have some knowledge of structural engineering or architecture, the whole premise behind the dome is that each wall as it reaches upward, due to the force of gravity has its only purpose to try and push down the wall opposite it. But that wall is countered by another wall which is also designed to push back with equal force. It is the constant collision of these forces locked in perpetual combat which allows for these beautiful ceilings to be suspended. Such as it is for our society–on one side you have a set of powerful ideas that is struggling for dominance, but those ideas are countered by an equally strong set of powerful ideas coming from another side. And it is through this constant interaction of ideas brought to bear in the free market of ideas which propels our society to greater heights.

Some people think that we disagree too much. I do not share that opinion. It is through disagreement then we become more informed. The Value Zodiac assists us in how to be an effective influencer and is intended to assist you in sharing ideas to foster the debate of refreshing ideas—new and old.  Debate allows us the opportunity to reconsider our ideas, clarify our thinking, and grow intellectually. Debate is not the problem. The problem consists of the vilification of “the other”. We too often see stupidity in intelligent people, demagoguery in the non-conventional thinker, cruelty in the compassionate, contempt in the caring, and hate in the benevolent. Our values and ideas shape every situation we touch. It is tragic that often our values and ideas lead us to some of the worst conclusions we can possibly make about our fellow human beings. But that is why we have been blessed with brains. By keeping an open mind, and by operating on the belief that, in general, people are good and genuine, we can do our best to work through the biases that are part and parcel to our respective worldviews. We owe it to each other, not just to be human, but to be humane.