What’s going to be on the test?
Is this going to work out?
What can we get here?
All questions that revolve around what is commonly known as resolution. Some in psychology call it closure, but really it’s the mental and emotional process of getting a definitive answer that “ties off” any loose ends.
Narrative structures such as novels, films, short stories, all rely on an ending that is “settled.” Even when we talk about data and research—areas that should have nothing to do with a narrative, but are merely reflections of the world as we have objectively tested it—we use the phrase lately “the science is settled.”
Yeah. Ok. So why are we still arguing?
The problem is not closure, an answer, an end to a narrative or even getting other parties to agree. The problem inherent in all of this phraseology and narrative structure around conflict is two-fold:
- We are framing our arguments, negotiations, mediations, and litigations, in the language of closure and resolution, when in reality we are selfishly seeking a way for us to win, and for the other party to lose. Rather than chasing a “lose-lose” outcome, this is a corollary to the idea that we seek an answer—or a conclusion—that matches our worldview, which is the best one, or else it wouldn’t be our worldview.
- We are seeking a manipulation, not of facts, but of other people whose ideas, positions, and interests we find to be distasteful, disagreeable, or just downright wrong. We seek to shut “the other” up, raise our own perspective up and devalue the other party, all in one fell rhetorical swoop.
When we seek to disconnect, rather than connect, and to ignore rather than understand; when we seek to replace the value already provided in an experience with the value we would rather the experience have; when we seek to judge rather than to educate; we aren’t looking to get to resolution.
We are merely seeking a solution.