Positions in Conflict

In his TED talk, Riccardo Sabatini identified that all human beings share 99.8% of their DNA. Which means that what makes you and I and everyone else unique is just under 0.2% of our genetic code.

What a fascinating concept to try to comprehend when we’ve spent our whole lives being told how unique we all are.

It’s interesting that often times looking at life, we tend to focus in on that 0.2% that makes us different so much more than that big number representing how similar we actually are. And in many ways, this is very similar to how we often view conflict. We get so hooked on what makes our positions different, the 0.2%, that we fail to see the huge amount of underlying similar interests, the 99.8%.

To truly understand this, we have to open ourselves up to being uncomfortable. We have to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the opposition with an open mind. We have to open ourselves up to the idea that it is possible that someone we so fundamentally disagree with likely has a lot in common with us.

There are many of these types of polarizing issues. Just look at taxes, abortion, government structures, vaccines, justice systems, borders, fuel sources, religion, etc, etc, etc.

I would suggest that if you look closely, the groups on any side of the arguments share a solid foundation of similar beliefs and interests. Examples:

Vaccines: both sides claim to value the health of their loved ones.

Abortion: both sides claim to value life.

Taxes: both sides claim to want whats best for the country.

It’s important to note that even if we have common interests, you may still never resolve the conflict. Those 0.2% differences are often built into the foundation of how we identify. But at the very least what this can do is provide a table for discussion that both parties might feel comfortable to sit at.

A helpful visual we like to use at Mediation Services is this:

Positions and Interests Graph

While looking at this graph, we would like to challenge you to consider some of your own conflicts you are in and see if you can identify the underlying similar commonalities that you may not have considered up until now.


If you have not yet taken a training course with us, but this blog has sparked an “Aha Moment” for you, we highly recommend checking out this workshop:

Introduction to Conflict Resolution: Dealing with Difficult People

Why are we scared when dealing with conflict?

How can I overcome that?

Introduction to Conflict Resolution: Dealing with Difficult People is our foundational course, that all other courses are built on. For this reason we highly recommend that this be the first course you take from us.

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