There is no substitute for a well-spoken word in a difficult situation. However, what we say and how we say it are always situated in a grander conversation. Sometimes this is conversation takes on intercultural dimensions, other times it is organizational or system oriented. More often than not, the conversation has interpersonal and moral implications.
The language of conflict is about more than what we say. It’s about understanding the other person—about seeing things from their perspective. And while we may never agree, the point is that we see.
James W. Sire talks about this human capacity as our way of rationalizing and negotiating the world. We do this through our worldview. Thus, the language of conflict is best understood against the broader discussion of worldview because, as Sire suggests, some things are common not just to our immediate family, community, nation or century but to the whole of the human race throughout time and space.
As we consider conflict, we must consider the commitments that undergird our engagement structures and patterns. And while this is a much more expansive conversation, it’s helpful to establish a baseline understanding of common starting points for the language of conflict.