Going Beyond Yes vs No – How The Brain Can Help In Conflict Resolution

The area of conflict resolution reminds me of a book by Edward de Bono titled “I Am Right, You Are Wrong.” De Bono (the inventor of lateral thinking) intentionally chose such a provocative title to remind us that life is NOT a zero-sum game. In essence, it is destructive and exhausting to think in terms of polar opposite viewpoints only. In life, we can all be winners by adopting clearer perception, constructive thinking and more open-minded creativity.

In the book, de Bono says “our habits of conflict are as primitive as ever, even though the weapons we use have benefited from our technical excellence.” For example, social media increasingly plays a huge role in propagating the illusion of mutual exclusiveness between conflicting parties, with the effect of creating harsh polarisation between both camps.

De Bono makes the case that our new thinking habits regarding conflict are to be based on how the human brain works. Specifically, how our brains create perception. In a nutshell, the more we hold on to a viewpoint the more we strengthen our resolve towards that viewpoint – unless we challenge our own thinking. To illustrate further, it is known that over a period of time, water flowing over dry land forms increasingly deeper ‘grooves’ and pathways until a dominant track is formed for the water to flow through. See image below: