Pseudo-conflict: discussions by misunderstanding

Pseudo-conflict: discussions by misunderstanding

Argue, defend your idea and get angry.

You wonder how he can think so differently.

You come back, stand up for your arguments, and get frustrated.

You think your positions are irreconcilable.

Until suddenly, usually, a third person says, "But you are saying the same thing!" Only then do you realize that you were defending the same position from a different point of view.

If this situation is familiar to you, it is likely that you have experienced a pseudo-conflict.



What is a pseudo-conflict?

A conflict is a disagreement resulting from two forces exerting pressure in opposite directions. We can have internal conflicts, with ourselves, which usually appear when we face major problems in life. And we can have interpersonal conflicts, which appear when our ideas, values ​​or feelings go in the opposite direction to those of others.

Conflicts are often a huge source of tension, causing great emotional arousal. But there are times when conflicts aren't as real as we think. So we fall into a pseudo-conflict.

Pseudo-conflict occurs when people agree but, due to poor communication, they think they are not. Pseudo-conflict is a false conflict, but people don't understand that their differences are caused by a misunderstanding or misinterpretation, not by different opinions.

How does pseudo-conflict arise?

Conflicts are the result of differences between two or more people. These differences can be caused by many factors, from differences in the level of information available to differences in personalities or values. Since each person is unique and has their own set of values, attitudes and beliefs, conflicts are inevitable.

No matter how empathetic we want to be, we will always continue to have an individual perspective on the world that doesn't always match that of others. This produces different opinions. But perception also affects the appearance of conflicts. And perception often plays tricks, especially in a complex area like communication. So a pseudo-conflict is likely to arise.



A pseudo-conflict is often the result of hasty conclusions based on erroneous assumptions. For example, we can draw conclusions from small clues provided by our interlocutor who is angry and defends a position opposite to ours, when in reality this is not the case. It is also common when there is a latent conflict with the other person.

A pseudo-conflict is therefore the result of a distorted perception, which leads us to make wrong hypotheses from which we draw conclusions that do not conform to reality.

The pseudo-conflict is not real, but its consequences are

If we don't deal with it in time, pseudo-conflict can quickly become a conflict. The fact that there are no different positions does not mean that they cannot arise, because we all have points of disagreement. Ultimately, what is real in our mind can become real in the shared space.

If we believe that our interlocutor defends a position different from ours, we are likely to get on the defensive and end up attacking him, this in turn generates a defensive response that can trigger a real conflict and damage those involved in the situation.

Therefore, before concluding that we have a conflict, it is worth pausing for a second to reflect and ask ourselves if it is a real difference or if there are more things in common than it seems.

How to avoid pseudo-conflicts?

To assertively manage a pseudo-conflict, it is important that:

1. Ask, ask, ask ... If you are unsure of what your interlocutor has said, don't fall into the temptation to make assumptions that lead to wrong conclusions. Simply ask him to clarify what he said. The best way to avoid misunderstandings in communication is to ask to clarify the words and phrases that we have not understood correctly.



2. Develop active listening. It means stopping to put yourself in the other's shoes. Many times pseudo-conflicts arise because we are too focused on defending our idea, so we don't realize that we are defending the same idea but from different points of view. Tuning in to your interlocutor's ideas will help you find common ground and save you a lot of arguments.


3. Forget about "winning". Entering into a discussion with the idea of ​​winning against the alleged opponent implies fueling a climate of war. Communication should be an exchange of ideas in which both achieve something positive, not a battleground to demonstrate alleged intellectual superiority or to be right. It is a subtle change of attitude, but very important, because giving up the desire to impose your point of view will open you to the ideas of your interlocutor and allow you to see that you are really talking about the same thing and there is no true and own conflict, but a pseudo-conflict.


And remember that "peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of creative alternatives to respond to conflicts," said journalist Dorothy Thompson. Even from conflict we can achieve positive things, if we learn to manage it assertively.

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