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You argue, defend your idea and get angry.
You wonder how you can think so differently.
You go back to fight, reinforce your arguments and get frustrated.
You think that your positions are irreconcilable.
Until suddenly someone, usually a third person, says: “But you’re saying the same thing!” Only then you realize that you were defending the same position from different points of view.
If this situation is familiar to you, it’s 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 important crossroads in life. And we can have interpersonal conflicts, which appear when our ideas, values or feelings go in the opposite direction to that of the other people.
Conflicts are often a great source of tension, causing great emotional activation. But there are times when those conflicts aren’t as real as we think. Then we fall into a pseudo-conflict.
Pseudo-conflict occurs when people agree, but, because of poor communication, they think they are not. Pseudoconflicts are false conflicts, but people don’t understand that their differences are caused by a misunderstanding or misinterpretation, not by real differences of opinion.
How does pseudo-conflicts originate?
Conflicts are the result of differences between two or more people. These differences can be given by multiple factors, from differences in the level of information handled to differences in personality or values. Since each person is unique and has its own system of values, attitudes and beliefs, conflicts are inevitable.
No matter how empathetic we want to be, we will continue having an individual perspective of the world that doesn’t always correspond to those of the others. This generates differences of opinion. However, also perception takes part in the appearance of conflicts. And perception often plays tricks on us, especially in an area as complex as human communication. Then is likely to arise a pseudo-conflict.
Pseudo-conflicts are often the result of hasty conclusions based on wrong assumptions. For example, we can conclude from small clues provided by our interlocutor who is angry and defends a position opposite to ours, when in reality it’s not like that. It’s also common when there is a latent conflict with the other person.
Pseudo-conflicts are, therefore, the result of a biased perception, which leads us to make erroneous assumptions from which we draw conclusions that don’t conform to reality.
The pseudo-conflict is not real, but its consequences yes
If we don’t cut it in short in time, the pseudo-conflict can quickly become a real conflict. The fact that there really are no different positions doesn’t mean that they cannot arise, since we all have points of disagreement. Finally, what is real in our mind, can end up being real in the shared space.
If we believe that our interlocutor defends a position different from ours, we are likely to assume a defensive atitude and end up attacking him, which in turn will generate a defensive response that may end up creating an authentic conflict that can cause a lot of damage to those involved. in the situation.
Therefore, before concluding that we have a conflict, it’s convenient to stop for a second to reflect and ask ourselves if it’s a real difference or if we have more points in common than it seems.
How to avoid pseudo-conflicts?
To assertively manage a pseudoconflict, it is important that you:
1. Ask, ask, ask … If you have doubts about what your interlocutor has said, don’t fall into the temptation of making assumptions that lead you 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 didn’t understand correctly.
2. Develop an active listening. That means stopping to put yourself in the place of the other. Many times pseudoconflicts arise because we’re too imbued to defend our idea, so we don’t realize that we’re defending the same idea from different points of view. Tuning in with your interlocutor’s ideas will help you find a common ground and save you many discussions.
3. Forget about “winning”. Entering a discussion with the idea of winning the alleged adversary involves feeding a climate of war. Communication should be an exchange of ideas in which both get something positive, not a battlefield to demonstrate a supposed intellectual superiority or any other type of reason. It’s a subtle but very important change of attitude, because abandoning the desire to impose one’s own point of view will open you to the ideas of your interlocutor and allows you see that you’re really talking about the same thing and that there is no real conflict, but a pseudo-conflict.
Remember that “Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflicts”, as journalist Dorothy Thompson said. Even from conflicts we can get positive things, if we learn to manage them assertively.