Truth, Dare, Fundamentalism and Uncertainty in the Crises of Friendship

I have been reflecting on the circumstances in which we break up a friendship over political differences. As this has happened to me several times recently in our fraught political climate. Logically the following may be going on and may even form one of our Top Ten Conflict Tips on the Crises of Friendships:

  1. I think my friend (and they think me) completely wrong and mistaken, either about the reality we are discussing (there is a real world out there aka RWOT as per Philip Kitchen’s Modest Realism), or the values we are applying to construe that reality and make decisions/takes stances on what it means and what to do about it.
  2. I think my friend may have a point (though I doubt they think I have one 🙂 ) But I don’t want to admit this; so best to distance myself from having to confront this possibility.
  3. This is especially so if I am internally conflicted over the issue in question, suffering from cognitive dissonance, and my friend represents one of the two sides at war in my psyche. Or my friend may be in this position. Or both of us….
  4. I think there is no clear answer to the issue: the reality or the right values to apply to the situation are indeterminate and taking a strong stand on the issue as my friend is doing and/or is insisting I do, doesn’t work for me; or they are in this position.
  5. More generally: we disagree over whether reality and values are pretty indeterminate, always in some sort of flux and in need of constant questioning.
  6. I may therefore tend to continually examine my perspectives by seeking data that will contradict them; and my friend only seeks data that confirms their perspective aka suffers from confirmation bias, or vice versa: I go confirmation bias and they go disconfirmation seeking. Either way it has become an uncomfortable mix.
  7. My friend is some sort of fundamentalist, in that nothing, no new data would change their mind on the issue; or I am a fundamentalist in this sense and they are not. Or our fundamentalisms are different, profoundly in conflict with each other, so dialogue is hard.
  8. One or both sides can’t use the process discipline of this blog: trying to clearly establish the reality of the conflict, uncover our and their interests and ask what if to surface creative solutions to our differences is completely unacceptable to my friend and/or to me, so we cannot use what might be called “conflict algebra” to find a higher level solution that resolves our different takes on reality in ways that creatively meets both sides’ interests.
  9. Or something else I haven’t thought of yet….like our paths have profoundly part, and our time as friends is over for some reason unrelated to the issue of the conflict.
  10. This too will pass and our friendship will resume after the election season….. 🙂 Especially if we declare on friendship adjourned rather than ended.

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Philosophy of Conflict, The Conflict Model, Top Ten Conflict Tips from Great Thinkers, Types of conflict, US Political Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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