Curiosity doesn’t traditionally play much of a role in conflicts, not even when we try to solve them. The desire is often more directed on explaining our reason than on listening the reason of the other. Inquiry about the background of the problem at hand is a rare phenomenon.
Why is that?
I believe the lack of curiosity in de midst of a conflict has to do with two main aspects:
- On the one side conflicts bring a lot of emotions and commotion with them. When we are emotional is really difficult to stop and think with curiosity about what is going on, on the contrary, we focus in on ourselves and our own feelings;
- Furthermore, curiosity has never been really considered a tool for conflicts resolution. Only the most creative and inclusive approach to conflict resolution use curiosity.
What does it actually means to use curiosity in a conflict?
It is about taking a step back and looking at the story behind the conflict. In every conflict there are at least two protagonists, each with a story. The story of each protagonist has brought that person where he/she is now and for this reason is relevant and instrumental to a constructive resolution of the conflict.
The differences can be enhanced to show the essence of the people engaged in the conflict. Diversity, if handled properly, can be an incredible source of creativity and connection. Discovering what the different values are that each part consider important can clarify a lot. In the same way as discovering the needs the people in the conflict experience is of paramount importance.
There is only one way to find out these information and that is ask. Ask questions, clarifications, check if what you think you understand is correct and create share meaning together. The biggest risk is replace asking with assumption.
Someone once told me: when you assume you make an ass of u and me.
When the conversation about the conflict become also a place where you can share your values and needs and you are open to hear what the value and needs of the other are, then you are experiencing an expansive connection that will change the way you look at conflict and you will be closer to a cooperative, creative, enhancing solution.
It seems too easy to be true. It is easy indeed, if it will be simple to achieve depends on a lot of aspects. The most important is that it take extreme courage to be the first one to change attitude knowing the other may not follow you.
Why do it then?
I personally do it because I want to have a different experience of conflict, because I realized that conflicts are inevitable, because starting from little conflict that were less emotional for me I realized I could grow more and more confident in this new way of managing conflict and most of all because this way of approaching conflicts is aligned with my values and matches my needs.