Monday, October 01, 2012

Common Morality

One of the tenets of Conflict Communications is "Work from the common ground."

If you and I disagree and we only talk about points of difference, we entrench.  The differences become not just opinions but identity tags.  The search for the truth gets completely lost in the contest to prove who is right.  It is damn near impossibly to change someone's mind by arguing.  But sometimes you can do it by agreeing.

We all have common ground.  We all eat and think.  You're here, so I can safely assume that you read.  I have never seen someone so alien or a criminal so depraved that we didn't share some common beliefs, some common values.  And, consistently, if I spoke from those common values I could usually (not always, nothing works every time) get compliance, even active cooperation.

In hostage survival classes, they will teach you to 'personalize' yourself.  the idea is if the bad guys know you have a name and a family, it will make it harder for them, emotionally, to kill you.  In the ConCom model, the underlying principle is clearer:

In order for most people to use high-order violence, they must 'other' the victim first.  They must create a string of rationalizations and tell a narrative where the victim is not a 'real' person.  We butcher cattle, swat mosquitos, but tend to fight and struggle (inefficiently) with people.  If the potential killer is in contact with the potential victim, he will drive the communication to the points of difference; "I fuckin' hate cops!"
And your job is to not be othered.  To push the conversation towards everything you have in common, "This is just a uniform.  It's a job so I can provide for my family. (Especially if you see a ring on his finger) What I really like is to go fishing (if you see a hat or bumper sticker with a trout) spend some time alone (if you sense he is a loner, otherwise 'with my buddies') and have a beer (if you smell alcohol on his breath.)"
Get the idea?  That's how personalizing works and why, if you just follow the formula instead of reading the situation, it can backfire.

This is just a piece.  I think ConCom has taken a huge step in creating a functional taxonomy of conflict.  Found the underlying essence.

And I think RGI, in their ethical protector course may have pegged the underlying common ground for all morality.

More later.  I'm tired and have lots to do on my first full day home.


Unknown said...

I think it all depends on how desperate people are to believe their own fantasies. The more insecure, the more cognitive dissonance one faces when met with conflicting evidence. People that really want to know the truth are probably more acquainted with opposing viewpoints than their own.

David Kafri said...

Forgive my ignorance - RGI?

Henry said...

RGI. Resolution Group International. My sensei Jack Hoban is the creator.

Justthisguy said...

Have you seen that recent post at Vox Day's blog, in which he recounts his experience impersonating a terrorist kidnapper, so as to train NGO people on how to respond to terrorist kidnappers?

Justthisguy said...

Totally off topic, but which way would you guys bet in a bare-handed fight to the death between Rory and Eric S. Raymond? My money would be on Rory.

Now, if swords were allowed, I believe Rory might have his work cut out for him. Or his liver.

Anonymous said...

Jack Hoban
3 day course I hope to take sooner than later but it looks like later.

RXian said...

It's often surprising, in even the most desperate person, how much someone in crisis will want someone with whom to identify. This person might not want to give that up easily, but he/she does often want to give that up eventually.