Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

How to Resolve an Infinite Chain of Conflicts

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Humans attach much greater weight to future losses than to future gains, especially when the former are certain and immediate and the latter are uncertain. Humans take unwise risks to avoid certain and immediate losses.

They don’t want to take risks to pursue gains or will unwisely turn down proposed changes or concessions that offer a mix of gains and losses, even when the promised gains are objectively greater than the losses.

To calculate a loss a Human chooses a personal reference point which is usually the individual’s status quo.

Human beings reject or devalue whatever is freely available to them. They strive for whatever is denied them. They want to fight because when you win a fight you don’t lose a fight. Humans get exited when they have removed an Obstacle.

Without an obstacle Life is Boring. To remove an Obstacle Humans create Imaginary Obstacles. They need a Challenge.

They don’t believe their adversary offers a compromise because when he offers a compromise he is losing. Somewhere behind the compromise is a hidden tactic. The adversary will attack out of the blue and will suddenly win. On the other hand when the compromise is sincere the enemy is getting weaker and it is possible to increase the demands in the negocation.

The total effect is that future compromises and package deals decrease in attractiveness once they are offered especially when they are put there by one’s adversary rather than by a third party (Reactive Devaluation).

The Effect of Future Losses on Human Decision Making is researched in Prospect Theory.

The basic Stategy of Humans is to avoid the Emotions of Loss (Anger, Frustration, Grief, Fear, Sadness, Yearning, Pity, and Sorrow). This is not strange because the Emotions of Loss have a negative impact on the body. They influence the Immune System and are the cause of many ilnesses.

When two parties imagine a joined future where both of them lose they will never cooperate. In terms of the prisoners dilemma this is called a lose/lose-situation.

When two parties have seen a win/win situation and the realization changes into a lose they are in conflict. They have to envision a new win/win or break the cooperation.

Sometimes it is impossible to break a cooperation because both parties share vital resources or don’t know how to divide the assets of the former cooperation. In this case they are in a the win/lose-mode of the (Iterated) Prisonners Dilemma, constantly switching between losing and winning.

When a party wants to move from a lose to a win he has to apply the tactic of Tit-for-Tat. When you apply Tit-for-Tat you simply copy the behaviour of the other. When one of the parties sustains his unwillingness to cooperate both of them are in an Infinite Chain of Conflicts.

When two parties were united it is very difficult to recreate independent disconnected units. Many of the joined activities where performed without negotiation and were never formalized. When two parties cooperate they are acting as one Mind and one Soul.

Moving out of a Cooperative Relationship needs a Cooperative Relationship. When this relationship is broken two parties are needed who enter into a Cooperative Relationship to resolve the Cooperative Relationship on the lower level. When this Cooperative Relationship fails another level has to be created. If all the levels fail they are in an Infinite Chain of Conflicts.

If a Conflict of Interest arises the first action is to avoid the conflict or to speed up the conflict. In the last case the Primary Emotions (Desire, The Emotion of Loss) are bothering them. To avoid a Conflict we have to Articulate our Emotions at the Right Moment in a Respectful Way. We have to Communicate.

Most Conflicts in Nature are violent. Humans have found a way to abstract from Violence. We have created Imaginary Violence. We Fight our Case in Court. We don’t fight our Case in the Court Yard. We have replaced the material Sword of Iron by the Imaginary Silver Sword of Words.

If both parties are unable to define the conflict in a coherent model the conflict will not resolve. They need help to do this. If the advisors of the two parties are unable to do this the conflict has to move to a higher level of abstraction. When the conflict is resolved on this level somebody has to translate the consistent model to the lower level. When this is not possible the conflict starts again. They are in an Infinite Chain of Conflicts.

When an Abstract Model is always Moving Up and Down, the Model is not in Harmony. Harmoniouss Models are applicable on Every Level of Abstraction. Models that are The Same on Every Level are Self-Referencial. When a Conflict is Modelled as a Conflict it will never be solved.

The solution to this problem is to Extend the Context of the Conflict until a Balance has been found. Both Parties have to Widen their Perspective. They have to step out of the Status Quo and Imagine a Bright Future. A Future where the Darkness of the Night has been replaced by the Light of the Day. They have to wake up out of their joint Nightmare and Face Reality.

A Conflict is resolved when all the parties that are involved are Satisfied. They are satisfied when they experience a Balancing of their Emotions. A Victim is satisfied when his Emotion of Revenge is resolved. The Killer is Killed or put into prison for many years. The Emotion of the Killer is balanced by the Emotion of his Victim(s).

To Balance Emotions we have to Objectify Emotions. When we are buying a Car we have to pay Money. The Car is an Objectified Emotion (The feeling of the Freedom to Move) and Money is an Objectified Emotion (The feeling of Freedom to do what we want to Do). The Potential of Money is balanced by the Potential to Move. When we buy we are balancing Potentials.

Humans use Mental Accounting to define what their Potential is. They divide their Potential in many “Isolated” boxes and are unable to combine the boxes. A savings account is meant to save money and not to spend money. If Humans put their Potentials in “closed” Boxes they are Poor although they are Rich.

When they feel Poor they will experience every potential solution of a conflict as a loss. When a Human accepts that the Future is not the Past he will realize that there are many possibilities he has never seen. When a Human accepts that his Potential is his Creativity he is able to negociate with an Open Mind.

Many people believe the Juridical System is the most objective system in our Society. Sadly enough this is not true. The Law is highly confusing. Judges don’t have the background to understand what has really happened. Lawyers are telling their own biased story and most of the cases are very complex. The System is a System of Last Resort. It is used when many future and current losses are accumulating.

The Judicial System is meant to resolve Infinite Chains of Conflict without Applying Violence. This is accomplished by Balancing Emotions by Objectifying Emotions by Articulating the Emotions in Words by Combining the Words into a Model by comparing the Model with an Abstract Juridical Model by Solving the Conflict Applying this Model by Translating the Model to a lower Level by Explaining the Model to the Parties hoping they will Agree so the Emotions are Balanced so both Parties are Satisfied.

If this is not happening the whole process starts all over again until somebody (a Judge, Somebody who Speaks Law) utters a Solomon’s Verdict.

I hope You see why it is much better to settle a Conflict on a Lower Level.


Papers about Conflict Resolution

About Prospect Theory

About Prospect Theory and the Financial Market

About Life Stories

Monday, October 1st, 2007

When you want to build a Story-Based-Game the best way to interview is to ask people about their Life-story. Let us first have a look at the The Foley Center.  The Foley Center of Northwestern University is specialized in Life Stories.

Dan P. McAdams of the Foley Center uses Agency and Communion as the major “modalities in the existence of living forms“. These two modalities may be viewed as two thematic clusterings in life narratives, each articulating important life goals, strivings, needs, and desires”.  When I read the articles of McAdams it was not difficult to see that he was using Interpersonal Theory .

Because I was able to map Interpersonal Theory to The Theory of Will McWhinney . I was able to to open up a huge potential to litterally Play with Life Stories. Will has also mapped his World Views to Games Levels.

When you consider a Life Story as a Narrative a mapping to the Theory of Bakhtin about Chronotopes is also very helpful.

When you use the concept of the Chronotope you will see that a life-story takes Place in a named Time/Place-continuum (A House, The Office,). So not only ask When an Event took place but also Where it took place. A place is are very important factor in a life story. Many people remember the atmosphere of a Place. The House I was born felt Warm and Cosey. In my office I felt Alone.

When we had a look at the thoughts of Bahktin about Context we realized that we were really trying to describe a Situation and that other Actors in the Situation also plaid an important Role (Father, Mother, Manager, …..). So not only ask Where and When but also Who was playing an important Role.

Many people are unable to make a distinction between the Self (I AM) and the Role they are playing in a Situation. This is an important cause of conflicts. When you are a Manager you have to play the Manager and not be the Manager.

A life story is a Sequence of Situations that are always started by a CRITICAL Event. There a many ways to classify Events but a simple classification is a high point, a low point or a turning point.

In his book Paths of Change Will explains that there a many “Strategies” to change a life and of course a Life Story. Every connection of a World View to another World View can be considered a Change, a Conflict, a Game or a Dialogue.

An Event is related to the the World View Sensory. Sensory People view the world as a Causal Chain. When an Event takes place the Emotions come into play. Emotions are related to the Social World View.

According to Nico Frijda:

  • An emotion is usually caused by a person consciously or unconsciously evaluating an event as relevant to a concern that is important; the emotion is felt as positive when a concern is advanced and negative when a concern is impeded.
  •  The core of an emotion is readiness to act and the prompting of plans; an emotion gives priority for one or a few kinds of actions to which it gives a sense of urgency – so it can interrupt, or compete with, alternative mental processes or actions. Different types of readiness create different outline relationships with others
  • An emotion is usually experienced as a distinctive type of mental state, sometimes accompanied or followed by bodily changes, expressions, actions“.

Emotions Evaluate a Situation. When they Evaluate a Situation they use a Concern to Priotize. When they are able to priotize with ease or when the Event is Dangerous the Action is Unconscious. When a dangerous event takes place the Reptile Brain starts to work and the only re-actions that are possible are Fight, Flight and Freeze.

When a Major Event happens the priotization becomes Conscious. The Actor has to make a Decision. This decision is crucial for the next step (a new Situation).

When you have a look at (or feel, or listen to, ) Life Stories the Process of Decision Making is the most important factor. Socials always feel what the Others are doing or start to take care. Unities start to manage and want to restore Order. Sensories take care of Themselves (Ego) and Mythics want to restore harmony. What we see here is the Self-refererence of the Model of Will McWhinney. Inside the Emotions the World Views are again at play.

If we know how people Evaluate we are able to learn a lot about their Personality.

When we look at the Chronotopes of Bahktin we also know their Favorite Life Narrative. A Sensory uses the Chronotope of Destiny. His or her life is a sequence of events that are just happening.

A Social uses the Biography, the praise of a public figure who has accomplished something in life. When he has not accomplished anything his life is worthless. He is a total failure.

A Mythic is always searching for something (The Grale). His story is described by the Chronotope of Adventure. Deep inside the Mythic wants to find Rest and Harmony. When he finally finds Rest he feels the urge to move on. Therefore the Life of a Mythic is full of Turning Points.

When we know the Favorite Life Narrative we also know “How to Help“. A Social needs to be re-valuated. He needs a tap on the shoulder. He needs to be praised.

A Sensory has to stop to Wait and See. He needs to do something and learn from his mistakes. Somebody has to tell him that others have made the same mistake and he is able to prevent mistakes by looking (!!) at other life stories of comparable people. The most important persons could be his father or mother. They also have made mistakes and when they just tell their children frankly what they did many children would simply learn from the parents.

I hope you understand why the theory of Roger Schank is so important. His theory is able to help the Unity/Sensory-combination (Experts or Craftsman) and this combination covers about 80% of the people in Western Civilization.

Roger has now created an impressive Virtual School for Children all over the World. He is teaching children to learn a CRAFT again. He is not teaching THEORY but he is giving children the opportunity to ACT in REAL LIFE SITUATIONS. He is teaching them to become a Nurse or an Engineer. Craftmanship is HIGLHY needed in the underveloped countries.

The Virtual School is FOR FREE. It is financed by people who want to take care of the poor children in the World. The Virtual High School is using Games and it able to train Children to move to the level of the University within a very short time (max 8 years). Roger has made connections to Famous Universities in the US. They are also giving away their educational content (again Games developed by Roger Schank!) for free.

Funny enough I was unable to find anybody in the Netherlands who just wanted to try out his Virtual School. Every School and University in The Netherlands is re-inventing the Wheel. This is a Rule. The Dutch Government is spending billions to create something that is already available. This is also a Rule. If you want to know more send me an EMAIL.

How the Programmer stopped the Dialogue

Friday, July 6th, 2007

A dialogue is a cyclic process where two humans are trying to understand what the other is meaning. The final test of their mutual understanding is activity. If this activity fails they have a reason to start a new cycle. If the activity succeeds they are in the flow.

A failure starts the process of imagination. It generates an idea. If one of them treats the failure as a mistake the collaboration stops and they are in a conflict. At that moment collaboration changes into competition if they are unable to solve the conflict. A successful chain of collaboration-cycles (mistakes) leads to innovation and to the feeling of joy.

If we program a dialogue meaning is transformed into a structure. Meaning is fluent. A structure is fixed. Water turns into ice. The warmth of the cooperation cools down. Activities are changed into procedures, rules to obey.

A long time ago people told stories and enjoyed them. They lived in a secure environment and the others were unknown. They lived far beyond the horizon. When people started to move around the world they started to write letters. Sometimes it took many months to complete a dialogue-cycle.

The cycle-time of the dialogue was shortened by invention of the postal system. The postman collected the letters and sorted the letters by destination. The letters were transported to a destination where the reverse process took place. The postman became a social person in the area he addressed. Everyday he walked the same cycle and new everything that happened in his neighborhood.

The content was secured by a small container (an envelop). The envelop was identified by the destination of the sender and the receiver. Because of the innovation of the transportation-system the cycle-time of the dialogue shortened. Horses and carriages changed into trains and planes. The shape of the container changed but the postman staid and made his roundtrip.

In the last phase the programmers started to act. Trains and planes were controlled by time-tables and more advanced tools. The role of the machinist, the trucker, the pilot and finally the postman changed from innovative collaborating human being into people that were dominated by a machine. They have to obey the procedure. They are controlled by the software-system and when the software fails they fail but they are unable to learn from their mistakes and start a new dialogue. The programmer is far away and cannot be reached.

Finally the letter is transformed into an email and people are bombarded by messages (spam, advertisement) they don’t want to receive. The dialogue has stopped.

The Email has not only stopped the dialogue. It has also destroyed the art of writing. People don’t take the time to reflect and get to the essence of the message they want to send back.

When they are stressed their return-message (an Email) is an impulsive reaction. Sometimes it generates a conflict and they really don’t know why. They also don’t have an idea how to solve the conflict and move to the level of mutual understanding again.

Do you want to know Why we need a Dialogue?

What do Artists and Military Man have in common?

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

john constableA few months ago I wanted to make an extensive horoscope to learn more about myself, my ex-wife (Merel Visse) and our relationship. I used

There are many choices and I ordered a Jungian Horoscope using a different name. uses Archetypes and I believe in them. They are the language of the Unknown.

Much later I found additional features of One of them is a search for look-a-likes in history, People that have the same astrological pattern. I searched for my wife and myself and our look-a-likes were all Artists or Military Man. This started a lot of reflection.

What do Artists and Military Man have in common?

I have always had the urge to become a military man or (better) a Constable. It is not a coincidence (!) that my name is John Constable. (Dutch name : Johan Konstapel). I carry the name of a very famous English romantic painter. I am a strange combination of an artist and a military man.

Constable quietly rebelled against the artistic culture that taught artists to use their imagination to compose their pictures rather than nature itself. Constable was not painting nature he became nature itself. He inspired the French impressionist of late nineteenth century.

I have a lot in common with him. I love to be immersed in Nature. I have created paintings, poetry and have made music (singing I am a counter tenor). I often wish I knew that it was possible to study Art when I was young.

When I was young I was tested to become a soldier. At that time everybody was obliged to serve in the army. The selection process came up with a spectacular result. They wanted me to become a pilot. Airplanes and especially military airplanes were my hobby. I collected photos of them. I did not enter the Army because my parents were pacifists and at that time I believed in pacifism.

I came to the sad conclusion that pacifism is a dream. War is a human affair and will never go away. I started to read about conflict-resolution. War can be prevented by diplomacy.

I applied for the Foreign Office and was almost hired when the ABN-bank offered me a better proposition. Later I realized that my interest in war and conflict were related to the conflicts in my youth.

I was raised by four parents (Father, Mother, Aunt and Grandfather) who were always fighting. I was the very young diplomat trying to create peace at home. Handling real-life conflicts is still a big problem for me (See also my blog about the Unconnected Child).

turnerWhen I started my company 10 years ago I researched the name Constable. A Constable (Konstapel) is an officer at a Dutch military ship responsible for the canons and the powder.

The aim of the Dutch Military was to explore the world finding places to buy and sell (The famous Dutch Trading Company VOC). They wanted to find new horizons and used weapons to protect themselves. They also used weapons to kill their opponents. The Dutch were really very aggressive people that covered their aggression with religion. This made it very simple to find a name, a logo (ship) and slogan “leave no stone unturned”.

I wanted to help people to discover new horizons in their work and later in themselves. Of course this also applied to me and my wife. The company is a vehicle to support our own process of discovery.

I think I have found the answer to the question.

An artist is an explorer. He explores Inner Space and expresses his findings in Outer Space. A military man explores Outer Space and expresses his findings in Outer Space.

Military man don’t want to fight. They want to play in the War Room with tiny canons, boats and tin-soldiers. The soldiers are not real. They are far away and playing in a movie. When they die they leave the stage and start living again.

straussMilitary man are also romantics. They love to practice in nature. They love uniforms. They bring them back to the time when war was a romantic affair with beautifull ladys dressed in white dancing the night away. They want to be pilots and don’t want to kill anybody. They just want to be free like a bird in the sky.

Military man get stressed when war becomes a major personal conflict. Suddenly they step out of their romantic movie in Reality and don’t know how to handle the situation. They know how to solve conflicts from a distance. They observe many of them, create new theories and help others to solve them.

They get into a personal conflict when their work is more important than their personal relationship. They get stressed and because of the stress their relationship slowly starts to disconnect. They become lonely survivors shouting out for help.

It explains also why many military man have male buddies, their “brothers in arms”. Solving a conflict with your partner creates an eternal band. Solving a conflict with a partner on a distance is impossible.

What can we learn?

Solving a conflict with your partner creates an eternal band. Avoiding a conflict creates a conflict. Many small avoided conflicts ad up to a crisis. A crisis that is not seen as a accident accelalerates into a war. A war destructs everything even the people that win the war. They are left with the memories.

My_Lai_massacreWar is a product of stress and stress is created when people stop to create and collaborate. They stop to create when they spend all their time to make money. They spend so much time making money that they don’t have the time to spend the money. When they spend the money they buy things that are almost never used like six cars, two houses etc. They buy to aquire status in the group of other people that are spending their time to make money. They are wasting vital resources.

When people are stressed they slowly disconnect and suddenly their relationship has disappeared. Because they are spending their time to work they are not able to observe this. When something happens that is disturbing their pattern they are also unable to solve the conflict because their work has to go on. They are committed to their boss, their clients, their capital and not to their partner.

What happens in a relationship can also happen in other relationships like companies, society and the world.

If we go on with wasting vital resources and don’t see that the world is moving into a huge level of stress we will suddenly wake up by a crisis that is beyond our imagination. I think we are already in this crisis and it is escalating.

This crisis will not be solved by Military Man. This crisis can only be solved by using our collective creative capacities. The nice thing is that a Military Man is really an Artist so they just have to change their focus.

The old slogan of the sixties “Make love no war” has to be changed into “Let’s create a better world together”.

And last but not least.

Let’s dance, sing, explore and enjoy the beautiful creation called Earth.