Goals, Methods, and Policies
The 'what', the 'why' and some of the 'how'
The goal of conflictisstupid.com is to help reduce conflicts
How am I qualified to show others how to reduce conflict?
I am convinced that much conflict, including the kinds of conflict that individuals can influence, is inherently unnatural and unnecessary. I believe that the normal state of affairs between civilized people is one of relative harmony and peaceful exchange-simply because this is the kind of environment that results in the maximum prosperity for all concerned. The last several millennia of seemingly endless conflicts both large and small are the result of intentional distortions in our society in order to benefit a small group at the expense of the larger group.
Understanding these distortions, how they distort our societies and how they can distort our behavior as individuals is a critical element in reducing conflict. Many of us don't have an opportunity to develop fully as individuals, genuinely connecting with our inherent powers and abilities. This results in a low-level (usually but not always) combination of anger and urgency in our dealings with others, a chronic "neediness" that makes it much harder to see the other person's point of view. The results are predictable enough -- and confirmed every day of our lives by the endless stream of large and small tragedies around us.
Conflict is stupid. And usually avoidable.
I do not come by this position easily or without a tremendous amount of investigation. I have spent the last three or four decades of my life investigating the various causes of conflict, something that has interested me ever since my childhood. As one who grew up in a family with more than its share of what I consider stupid conflict, I have been motivated for my entire life to determine the cause.
Much of my philosophical basis for the statements I am making here are based on work with Nathaniel Branden. The companion site to conflict is stupid.com, the Brandon tapes.com goes into much more detail about my work with him and some of my related activities. Nathaniel Branden, who for many years was affiliated with philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand, is one of relatively few "mental health" professionals to recognize the connection between personal problems and the intentionally distorted society, which causes many of them.
This is certainly not to say that some very real conflicts-and some very conflict prone individuals don't exist. Like most of us, I have had more than my share of experiences with these types of individuals. However, I have maintained my conviction that these types of people. And their behavior are the exception and not the natural or normal state of affairs. I will link to the section of this site that includes a number of stories about experiences I have had that illustrate this position.
To summarize my qualifications: I reject what I consider the self-fulfilling prophecy that many people subscribe to, the belief that conflict is inevitable and simply an inherent aspect of who we are. My studies and my experiences have shown me that this belief has been promoted in order to maintain the distortions in our society that I mentioned earlier. Those who benefit from our society being the way it is, including the never ending conflicts, have an enormous vested interest in maintaining this narrative. By taking a closer look at the assumptions involved here, and applying them as much as possible to one's own interactions with others, it is certainly possible to improve the kinds of exchanges and reduce the potential for conflict.
I have written elsewhere about the benefits of reducing conflict, but to summarize-the time, energy, and resources that go into dealing with conflict in one's life become available for improving one's life or simply enjoying it. And if one is in a position to influence others-such as one's children-illustrating on an ongoing basis that we can in fact coexist peacefully with each other is probably one of the greatest gifts of all.
The goal of conflictisstupid.com is to help reduce conflicts
All About Conflict!
You can reduce it if you want to
Conflict is stupid -- but let's face it: quite a bit of conflict is just out of our control entirely, like wars. And there are all kinds of conflicts that really don't matter, so even though they may be annoying we usually don't worry about them too much.
On a typical commute to work, for example, there is an excellent chance that you will encounter a variety of brief yet possibly quite exciting conflicts with other drivers. Unless you have the misfortune to be involved in an accident and / or a "road rage" incident, these will probably be forgotten by the time you get to the office.
There is a third kind of conflict, however, that does matter: the kind that involves an ongoing interaction with something important at stake, and that are, at least to some extent, under our control. These are the conflicts that this site is going to focus on, in order to provide real benefit for those willing to explore some alternative ways of dealing with each other.
The first conflicts this site will address involve areas of life that affect just about everybody: housing and money.
Roommates. Roommate problems are probably one of the more pervasive clichés in our daily life.
Landlords and tenants. A really important, not easily altered type of exchange with significant consequences for both sides. With so much at stake, even a modest increase in the quality of the relationship-with a corresponding reduction in conflict-is likely to result in huge benefits for both parties.
Salary negotiations. This is one of those situations in which things would be really simple if everybody involved simply decided to do the best they could for the other party-but of course this is usually not the case. Both parties want the best possible from the other party but are generally not as concerned with their own side of the transaction. Again, the benefits from changing this to as positive as possible and interaction are significant for both sides.
If you would like to begin reducing conflict in some key areas of your life, here are some things you can do here at conflictisstupid.com:
Explore in more detail some of the kinds of conflict mentioned in this article
Take a look at some of the principles involved in the conflict is stupid.com approach to reducing conflicts
Sign up for the free conflict is stupid newsletter to receive tips and suggestions.
Sign-up for a free firstname.lastname@example.org, or consider a premium membership. Click here for a description of some of the things you can do with either type of account.
It is important to realize that conflict is an essential part of our culture. The typical model for interactions between people is not one of mutual cooperation, but rather one of domination and submission. This is reinforced throughout our lives, but is especially apparent in our compulsory education system. This is the time when many of us begin to realize that life is a place where others tell us what to do and we have to do it. This, of course, sets the stage for future conflict since at least some of us will look forward to the day when we are the ones telling others what to do.
This dominate or submit, coercive model applies to resources -human as well as natural resources. Since both of these are required for employment, the distortions introduced by the endless manipulation of resources results in a continual struggle for employment and meeting one's basic necessities. This kind of environment is the exact opposite of what it would take to create a more harmonious society, so once again conflict is the name of the game.
The roots of conflict actually go even deeper than this, unfortunately. While it is an unpopular topic, the fact is that most of us have our wishes pretty much cast aside when we are young in favor of "socializing" us with the dominant beliefs and superstitions of our particular culture. This is as true in the so-called free world as it is in the more overtly unfree nations, although the mechanisms employed are sometimes more subtle. Ironically, this subtlety can make the damage even more difficult to recognize and potentially reverse.
Since most of us do not want to have anything to do with memories of being overpowered and humiliated and having our spirits broken, we as a society tend to develop a widespread amnesia about the entire process. This lays the foundation for fairly widespread ambiguity about coercion in the society, which winds up perpetuating the original problem. The result is a society full of individuals whose reaction to many events in their lives is based on "obsolete responses." Because of the stress involved for so many, due to the frustrating work, financial worries from endless economic woes, troubled relationships with family members and so on, the anger and frustration is frequently quite close to the surface for many. Given this kind of a situation, it is actually surprising that overt conflicts don't occur even more frequently than they do.
I realize this is a rather gloomy interpretation of our world, and I would prefer a more positive interpretation as much as anyone. However, I learned long ago that wishful thinking does not in any way change realities, unpleasant or otherwise. My hope is that conflictisstupid.com will in some small way be able to reduce some of the needless conflict that creates the gloomy picture.
A fairly obvious objection to my statement that "conflict is stupid" might go something like this:
How can conflict be stupid? There is only so much stuff in the world that we need; in terms of the really nice stuff, the luxuries, there is even less. And yet, we all want and need stuff -- and we really like the nice stuff. Since there is nowhere nearly enough to go around, especially of the luxuries, how can there be anything but conflict?
This excellent observation, which forms the fundamental reason for the study of economics -- a world of infinite wants and needs combined with finite resources -- certainly does lead to what appears to be endless conflict. I need to make a distinction, which is that actually my position is that stupid conflict is stupid. I am making a distinction between different kinds of conflict, rational and irrational.
Ayn Rand once said that there is no conflict of interest among rational beings. Clearly, this is not to say that it isn't possible for several people to want the same job, the same house, or maybe even the same spouse. Some of them are going to be disappointed. How can we distinguish between the expected disappointment that is a natural part of life, and the stupid and destructive conflicts that continue to do so much damage in our world?
Let's use a really popular commodity as an example: love. Some would say that love is in relatively short supply in our troubled world; whether or not this is true is beyond the scope of this particular article. But we can use this as a way to demonstrate the distinction between disappointment and conflict.
Let's imagine a delightful young lady by the name of Janie. Janie is in the enviable position of having three eligible young men all very interested in winning her hand in marriage. Let's refer to her suitors as Larry, Moe, and Curly. Each of these young men is looking forward eagerly to a lifetime of wedded bliss with the lovely Janie.
What is a gal to do?
Janie, for reasons of her own, decides that she wants to spend the rest of her days with Curly. He is naturally overjoyed at the prospect and they immediately make plans for the nuptials. We can explore this tale in more detail, but the real point is not Janie and Curly, but rather the reactions of her disappointed suitors, Larry, and Moe.
Both of these men are disappointed since they were each every bit as enamored of Janie as Curly was. But they react very differently to Janie's decision.
Larry sends a nice card expressing his disappointment, but also wishing the best of luck to Janie and Curly. To demonstrate his genuine good graces, he begins looking for the ideal wedding present as well. He is disappointed, but he reminds himself that as someone once said, there is plenty of love in the world -- the problem is one of distribution. He begins to think in terms of putting himself out there again so he can wind up with the kind of relationship he hopes to create.
It is a completely different and much less desirable ballgame with Moe, who reacts in typical Neanderthal fashion. He fires off a series of increasingly unpleasant private messages to Janie on Facebook, where he also posts a variety of embarrassing pictures from some of their earlier days together. Fortunately for Janie, Curly is mature enough to overlook Moe's efforts to bring turmoil into the relationship, but Moe's immature reaction is unpleasant just the same.
There is no need to go into gory detail with this little imaginary tale as we all know just how unpleasant to the point of lethality that the classic love triangle situation can become. But I think this does make a good point, since Larry and Moe were both faced with the same disappointment in that they both lost the same love object for lack of a better term. But their drastically different responses illustrate what I mean by conflict being stupid.
Larry was certainly disappointed and maybe even brokenhearted, for all we know, when he realized that Janie was not going to spend her life with him. But rather than turn the situation into a conflict, he reacted as a mature adult, accepted her decision, and began making alternate plans for himself. This is how I understood Rand's statement about rational beings not having conflicts of interest: part of being rational is the willingness to accept each other's decisions. Larry accepted Janie's decision and avoided a conflict.
Moe, on the other hand, by refusing to accept Janie's decision turned a disappointment into a conflict. He certainly didn't have to do this, and it is probably safe to say that he and Janie and Curly would all have been better off if he had responded more along the lines of how Larry did. Depending on how far you want to take this example, you can imagine all kinds of unnecessary pain and suffering brought about by Moe's insistence on turning a disappointment into a conflict.
This is what I mean by "Conflict is stupid." And this is why I am hoping to show whoever is interested as many ways as possible to avoid it. It doesn't mean we are never going to be disappointed, since disappointment is just as much a part of life as our accomplishments. It means figuring out how to respond to disappointment without turning it into conflict -- and how best to find others who are willing to do the same.
The previous article mentioned a number of the reasons why we have so much conflict in our world. Hopefully this article will add some optimism to the situation by outlining some of the ways that I believe we can reduce conflict, at least in those areas of life that are within our control. Perhaps enough of this reduction will eventually lead to a change in the larger conflicts, but that will have to wait for another day.
The first principle I follow in my ongoing attempts to minimize conflict in my dealings with people is to find common ground. There is almost always some kind of common ground, some mutual result based on the simple fact that the transaction exists in the first place. The trick is to identify it and consciously work toward it, while making this fact as obvious as possible to the other party.
That last paragraph was a little awkward. So maybe an example will help. I will link to my article or my story of my "used-car lot." Transaction in which I explain how I dealt with a conflict involving a used car purchase a few years ago. The common ground in this case was the obvious fact that both the car dealer and I wanted the transaction to be completed as satisfactorily as possible. I wanted a good reliable car; the dealer, someone who had been in business in the area for many years, seemed to genuinely want a satisfied customer in order to maintain their reputation. By emphasizing this aspect of the situation. I was able to bring about a relatively positive result to the conflict that arose during this transaction.
Another principle to follow, probably the most important one of all. And the one that is most frequently ignored if not consciously violated, is to avoid attacking and getting personal. I think in many cases this goes back to the anger and resentment that is unfortunately so close to the surface for so many people-if you are unhappy and stressed out with your life, it is going to be tempting to lash out the first time something doesn't go your way. Someone else who is in some way responsible for the current conflict can be seen as an enemy to be vanquished, which can thoroughly obscure and aggravate the underlying situation.
An easy technique to keep in mind that helps to minimize the temptation to attack is to simply talk about yourself and the situation. It is pretty difficult to launch some kind of personal attack without talking specifically about the other person-so, like the fellow whose arm hurts when he holds it a certain way, just don't do that. I know this is easy to say, and maybe not nearly as easy to do, especially in the heat of a frustrating situation. But if you give it some thought, you'll probably realize that it almost has to help simply because it's a natural human reaction to become defensive when we are attacked. Once anyone in the exchange becomes defensive, the likelihood of a successful resolution to the original conflict goes down significantly.
Another way I like to express this is to say that it helps to reduce a conflict if you can somehow avoid adding additional conflicts to the situation. It's kind of like the old saying: when you are in a hole, stop digging.
I can say a little bit more about the principle of talking about yourself and the situation rather than the other person. There is an old joke in therapy groups, wherein the therapist admonishes a client to simply talk about his feelings rather than calling the other person a name. The client cleverly responds, "Okay, I feel like Tom is a jerk!"
It is one of those situations where going along with the spirit as well as the letter of the rule is probably helpful. Another thing related to this technique is to attempt as much as possible to encourage the other person to kind of see your side of the situation. Talking about yourself and how the situation is affecting you can help this to occur. And this in turn leads to the next principle I try to follow.
Go out of your way to see the situation from the other side. This is another concept that probably has all kinds of psychological implications and origins that we can explore elsewhere. But for now, recognize that it is relatively common in our culture to only see our own side of a situation and to ignore or pretend that the other side simply does not exist. By making a conscious effort to combat this tendency, you can accomplish at least two important things: one is the tremendous amount of insight that you can't help but gain when you see the transaction as the other person is seeing it. The other one is perhaps even more powerful in some ways-since the willingness to do this is somewhat unusual in our society, you can gain a little extra recognition or perhaps brownie points from the other person simply by behaving in a relatively unusual yet benign manner. Yes, it is a conflict and yes, there is a certain amount of tension involved-but the willingness to display a certain amount of graciousness in the midst of a potentially unpleasant situation can yield surprising benefits.
Meet them halfway whenever possible. There have been any number of books written on the art of compromise, and it is probably one of the most useful techniques in any kind of conflict. Once again, it is important to separate and recognize some of our various underlying motivations as much as possible in order to maximize our chances of a really good result. If we have been conditioned by our ultracompetitive society to win at any cost, to believe that almost any disagreement with another person is in fact a war to be won rather than something to simply be resolved, the willingness to find a mutually agreeable solution can be significantly lessened. Another way to say this is to be willing to recognize that it's okay if you don't get everything you want. One really nice thing about this kind of a resolution to a conflict, especially in an ongoing situation where by definition, you will be dealing with the person again, is it can go a long way towards setting the stage for much better interactions in the future.
These are some of the kinds of things that I plan to discuss and apply to as many specific situations as possible here on conflictisstupid.com. I look forward to hearing from you and discussing these and more principles as soon as possible.
Principles, Concepts, and Objections
Some of my beliefs are controversial
My belief that most human conflict can and should be avoided is based largely on the following:
-- Most problems among humans are caused by coercion
-- Much behavior used to justify coercion was caused by prior coercion
-- Like it or not, we are greatly affected by our early experiences, i.e. our childhood
-- Rather than develop our tool of survival -- our minds -- most of us spend our childhood getting propagandized with the tribal culture of our families and government.
-- Since these memories are painful, they are blocked, resulting in "obsolete responses"
This section of the frequently asked questions will discuss these objections, and they are all open for discussion in the forum for anyone who would like to take the discussion further.
I was told as a young man that the only evil in our lives is coercion and that all others are derived from this. I have yet to find an exception.
Coercion is the root cause for much of the conflict in our world.
And conflict, as the name of my site says, is stupid. It's also destructive; it is obvious that cooperation works better. So why does conflict continue to plague our society? I think there is a relatively simple, if unpopular, answer.
The core problem is coercion, the "might makes right" approach to interactions. Most of us learn this in childhood, but there is an extremely powerful psychological motivation to "forget" the pain and humiliation that frequently accompanies this. As a result, our societies have developed an ambiguity and amnesia, of sorts, with regard to coercion.
This ambiguity leads, for example, to absurdities like schoolchildren being lectured about the evils of bullying while sitting in a classroom that they have been forced to attend -- and that others have been forced to pay for. It is hardly surprising that individuals growing up in this kind of a society would develop some rather mixed feelings about coercion.
Repressing the anger and frustration that accompanies having our wishes overruled does two things to set the stage for a society full of unnecessary conflict. First, it begins the foundation of anger and resentment in an individual, which can make inappropriate responses to reasonable requests that much more likely. A tragic example of this kind of thing in recent events is the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The other problem with learning coercion as a primary way of dealing with others early in life is it can encourage the individual to assume that this is the proper way that we deal with each other. Not only is this individual then more likely to use coercion in his or her own dealings with others -- this person is then probably going to accept coercion as a proper element in their society.
I recognize that I have introduced at least three elements that are controversial into my analysis: my statement that coercion is always wrong, the use of psychology to help explain social occurrences, and my reference to childhood as relevant to this kind of understanding. This section of the frequently asked questions will discuss these objections, and they are all open for discussion in the forum for anyone who would like to take the discussion further.
Today is Saturday, November 29, 2014 this is the FAQ entry entitled psychology, friend or foe?
My understanding of how conflict became such a pervasive aspect of our society is based largely on my understanding of psychology. I am not a professional in the field, although I have been a client in prior years and since benefiting greatly from therapy with Nathaniel Branden and others I have maintained a high level of interest in the field. I think it is fair to refer to myself as a relatively well informed layman.
Even as I say this, however, I realize I need to qualify the statement. My qualification has to do with one of three reasons why I believe the field of psychology is viewed with skepticism; I will make my point, and state my qualification after I list these statements.
To summarize my position and how essential an understanding of psychology is, at the risk of repeating myself, I believe the conflict in our society, along with many of our related social problems, are caused by the unnecessary use of force in our society and the result resulting effects this has on our psychology. It is easy to see why I would believe that understanding of psychology is important, given how closely intertwined. This is with my understanding of the issue of conflict.
I will provide links elsewhere to some sources and references that go into more detail about the psychological impact of our distorted society. My purpose here, however, is to briefly summarize some of the objections that many people have to the entire field and explain my understanding of why they may exist.
Note to myself: I should probably include religion as one of the reasons why some people object to psychology. At least some psychologists tell us that we are responsible for our own happiness, which would seem to contradict some religious teaching that tells us that it is all up to God.
One of the reasons why some people are suspicious or downright skeptical of psychology is something that I find myself in agreement with as well, at least to an extent: at least some of the subdivisions within the field do seem a little bit on the unusual side, to put it nicely. My statement here may in fact go beyond psychology as such, and more into the larger topic of personal growth or perhaps the "new age" thinking, but regardless, there are quite a few different kinds of practices and beliefs within the overall umbrella of making things better through psychologically related services. It is quite possible that all of these modalities work quite well for some individuals, but it is also easy for me to understand why many people would find at least some of them a bit strange.
Another reason, perhaps more controversial, is the fact that many people, especially in the Western world seem quite uncomfortable with the entire idea of self analysis. The so-called Protestant work ethic in this country pretty much says work hard, keep your nose to the grindstone and all will be well. Anything that sounds like complaining or trying to understand life's deeper mysteries is frequently cast aside somewhat scornfully. While I do believe in hard work, I am convinced that many people are simply afraid to look too closely at some of their innermost memories, experiences, and values. The notion of divulging ones inner life to a bunch of strangers-even those with advanced degrees-is simply terrifying to some individuals.
In recent years I have become more aware of another category of reasons why many people instinctively distrust the entire field of psychology-and psychiatry for that matter. Going back to my original statement that the starting point for many of our structural problems in society, including the massive amount of unnecessary conflict is the distortions in our society, those who are benefiting from the distortions are certainly clever enough to figure out ways to deal with some of the problems caused by these distortions. It is essential, from the point of view of those in charge, that the structural problems in society itself are not seen as having anything to do with the never-ending problems in our society. With that in mind, we have psychiatry and to a somewhat lesser extent psychology.
Ivan Ilyich said the purpose of school is to serve as the advertising agency that makes you believe you need society as it is. Psychiatrists and psychologists, with relatively few exceptions, largely serve a similar purpose in that they are there to deal with those who do not become convinced and wind up with some serious difficulties in their lives as a result.
Thanks to the Internet, a relatively large and rapidly growing movement known as "reform psychiatry" or "psychiatric survivors." Has become popular. More and more individuals are speaking out and questioning if not downright rejecting the various measures imposed on them in order to deal with their life problems: involuntary commitment, electroshock, lobotomies, and to a an enormous extent in recent years, an endless stream of psychiatric medications.
In short, the mainstream mental health field, including psychiatrists and psychologists, is largely seen as an arm of the state-with its primary goal being that of maintaining the status quo. As a result, more and more people are questioning if not rejecting outright what these practitioners have to say.
I believe this is terribly unfortunate, a fine example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. One of the related goals I have with this site and my related site, thebrandentapes.com is to raise awareness of the various alternatives to the traditional propaganda-related mental health services. I was fortunate in my experience with therapy, and I would like to help others who are interested in pursuing some kind of personal growth related services, but are wary of getting involved with the state and its propaganda.
My qualification about my own knowledge of the field has to do with this distinction, the "reform" psychiatrists and psychologists who largely reject the role of de facto agent of the state. Thomas Szasz and Peter Breggin, are two of the more well-known psychiatrists in this category; Nathaniel Branden, whom I worked with extensively, is perhaps the best-known psychologist.
There is usually a lot of disagreement on the question of how much impact one's childhood has on one's success or failure or general outlook on life as an adult. I find this kind of surprising, although I believe I do understand it. Still, in almost any other area of life it is just taken for granted that the circumstances surrounding the creation of something will have a clear effect on how that particular something turns out.
When you go to buy a secondhand car, for example, one of the first questions a smart buyer will ask is, "how has it been maintained?"
If a house is put together by inexperienced builders using substandard materials and haphazard methods, no one will be surprised when that house develops problems relatively early in its life.
And dog trainers know that in order to raise a ferocious dog, one that will be only too happy to tear its opponent to shreds in a dogfight, it is necessary to treat the dog as harshly as possible during its early life.
Yet, somehow, we humans are different: our early experiences are somehow separate from the rest of our existence.
This just does not make sense to me. And it apparently doesn't make sense to governments and religions for the last several thousand years, because they have all sought to get hold of the children in their territories as early in life as possible. It has been well understood for millennia that the best time to form lifelong habits in people is when they are young -- the younger the better. I am pretty sure it was the Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, who said give me a child for the first two years and he is mine for life, or words to that effect.
This is important to the topic here, the unnecessary and stupid conflict in our world and how to overcome it, because it is in childhood that many people begin to develop the resentments and frustrations that result in their being more likely to behave in ways that encourage conflict. Additionally, their need to repress these unpleasant emotions will in many cases make them less able to empathize with the frustrations in others who are experiencing their own conflicts.
A very common example of this scenario occurs on a regular basis when parents attempt to understand the difficulties their children are having in school. Thanks to compulsory education, schools run almost entirely on coercion and conflict; many of the students, many of whom have not been entirely socialized and are still unhappy with the idea of being told how to spend the majority of their waking hours, object to this. Unfortunately, the parents having repressed their own frustrations at this kind of experience are largely unwilling or unable to understand their children's frustration. In this way, the cycle continues generation after generation.
One objection to this kind of analysis is the idea that we are blaming the parents or I should say blaming our parents for our own unhappiness in life. This is probably a fair objection because in many cases, that is exactly what people do-but this is not universally true. For my purposes here on this website, my position is that, yes, one's childhood experiences have a lot to do with how well one is able to deal with disagreement and disappointment. It is extremely helpful to understand this in order to better understand your own approach to dealing with conflict, as well as to gain a similar understanding when dealing with others. But I emphatically disagree with the notion of blaming our parents or anyone else for that matter as a means of absolving ourselves of responsibility for our own life.
While it is true that our childhood experiences can have a lot to do with how we approach our lives, there is simply nothing to be gained by spending your time and energy looking for others to blame. In passing, notice that this is true in other environments, not just the family or one's childhood. For example, our so-called criminal justice system that spends virtually all of its resources on blame and punishment -- with very little, if any, emphasis on restitution for the victims of crimes -- is guilty of the same mistake.
While I don't agree that blaming someone else, family or not, is generally all that productive, I do feel strongly that putting a stop to mistreatment is important. A commonly held belief is that somehow family should get a pass where this type of judgment is concerned, and that we somehow have an obligation to continue to associate with family members, regardless of how well they respect our wishes and whether they are willing to deal with us in a way that we find acceptable. This is a huge topic in its own right, so I will limit my comments to the relevance to the "conflict is stupid" mission. The problem with putting up with crap, to put it bluntly, from anyone, family or not, is the natural tendency to want to somehow balance the scales by giving some of the same poor treatment to someone else. In other words, if you refuse to take it you will probably be less likely to be inclined to dish it out.
Great Forums Here
The forums at CIS are extremely important to the site's mission: helping to reduce unnecessary conflict. Making changes can be difficult; hearing the original idea reinforced based on other peoples' experiences can be a tremendous help. The CIS forums will be created and maintained to maximize their effectiveness at providing this important support.
First of all, there will be at least one forum for each "Conflict" discussed. ("At least" because some Conflicts may require a variety of subforums to handle the resulting discussions). The benefit will be the ease of finding a discussion or discussions based on the Conflict that interests you: just go to the linked forum.
Quite a few online forums wind up with a high percentage of posts that fall into the following categories: spam, pontificating, and angry personal attacks or "flames." None of these will be of any use to the CIS forums. Measures to keep these kinds of posts to a minimum will be discussed below. First let's consider the kinds of posts most likely to help the mission -- reducing unnecessary conflict -- that will be encouraged.
Making it Useful
Here are some key principles that will make the forum much more useful for everybody:
- The important point is always the original issue, not a particular post or forum member. Ultimately all postings should relate to the specific Conflict being discussed -- roommates, work situations, whatever.
- It's tempting to talk about what others did or should do -- but the person you are most qualified to discuss is YOU. Your experiences with a particular issue, your reaction to an approach taken by someone else... these are valuable bits of information for others.
- The goal is, always and forever (at least here on CIS and CIS Forum), to figure out ways to reduce or resolve conflicts. If someone else has an idea or a suggestion that you disagree with, by all means explain why you see the situation differently. But going out of your way to criticize or attack the other person is just completely beside the point.
We only live once. But if others will share their experiences with us -- especially when they involve issues similar to those that concern us -- we get the benefit of additional thoughts, additional experiences, additional lives. This is not a new concept.
Talk About Important Stuff!
"LiveTalks" work hand in hand with the Forums to provide an ongoing dialogue -- a great way to gradually form new habits. Since mankind has a bit of a "conflict" habit, one way to reduce conflicts is by replacing the conflict habit with alternatives. These talks, along with the forums and other resources on the site, are designed to help make this happen.