Conflict Management in an Argumentative World

Mediating in an Argumentative World
Mediating in an Argumentative World | Source

Reasons for Lack of Productivity

After a productive start to the year when I was writing around two hubs per week, I have suddenly found myself in, for want of a better term, a writing rut. I can't really blame this malady on writer's block or any one thing as there has been a number of contributing external issues.

The major restricting factor to my writing here at HubPages is probably the volume of freelance writing jobs I have been called to do. I am not complaining as these are paid gigs and we all need money to survive, but ghostwriting and editing articles for others is not as personally satisfying as writing for oneself on subjects and issues close to your heart.

Other things that have contributed to my recent lack of activity here include:

  • Additional clearing our block of land and renovating the premises
  • More travel and extended time away from home than usual
  • Donating time to man stalls at markets and trade/craft fairs
  • Starting and maintaining a new website

I have become desperate to put pen to paper and be more productive. Should I write a poem, or maybe a short piece of fiction? Each time I would start to write I would lose focus, be interrupted, or be distracted by something else, or just not happy with the writing I produced.

The topic of this hub really just selected itself.

To Mediate or Not to Mediate
To Mediate or Not to Mediate | Source

To Mediate or Not to Mediate?

While sitting at my computer screen in the hope of suddenly being visited by my muse and finding the inspiration to write something deep and meaningful, I instead found myself acting as a mediator both here on HubPages, Facebook, and on my other website.

I am used to taking on a mediator role in real life as for some unexplained reason my wife and I often seem to become friends with people who simply don't like each other, but who we get on with fine. That is a difficult position to find yourself in because you often have to deal with gossip from one about another, and vice versa but have to stay impartial.

Usually, when I stumble upon a dispute that involves people I don't know well, I quietly watch on or listen, or will beat a hasty retreat assuming it is none of my business. However if it involves friends or colleagues, or affects something I have a personal interest in, I have no choice but to become involved. This has been the situation I have found myself in recently.

Forum or Debate?

British Dictionary definitions for:

forum

noun

1.a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest

2.a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine

3.a public meeting place for open discussion

4. an Internet-based forum for an interest group; also called bulletin board, discussion board, interactive message board

debate

noun

1.a formal discussion, as in a legislative body, in which opposing arguments are put forward

2.discussion or dispute

3.the formal presentation and opposition of a specific motion, followed by a vote

Based on these definitions, forums and message boards are designed for matters of common public interest to be discussed or answers sought and provided. It appears though forums (at least on the Internet) are being used more and more for debate (dispute) rather than just friendly discussion.

Some terms that have been connected to the word debate are "healthy", "spirited"' and "heated". The first two are fine and can lead to interesting discussion, the third however is better avoided as it can lead to unpleasant outcomes. Recently, while visiting certain forums and message boards and expecting friendly discussion I have inadvertently found myself in the middle of all these types of debates instead.

Without it being my intention, I have been forced to assume the role of mediator to try and avert a discussion, between two people I knew, that began as healthy debate but soon threatened to become spirited and then heated.

Is the World Becomomg More Argumentative?
Is the World Becomomg More Argumentative?

Is the World Becoming More Argumentative?

It seems that everywhere you look today people are arguing. Turn on the news and you will see politicians continually arguing just for the sake of disagreeing with the opposition. Countries are at war constantly or at odds with how to deal with terrorism, what to do with refugees etc. The general public is constantly at odds over things like gun control, religion, politics, climate change, health, jobs, political correctness, censorship, names of HubPages niche sites, and the list goes on.

Maybe my memory fails me or I remember things through the innocent, non-judgemental eyes of a child, but I recall a time when life seemed more peaceful and care-free, and people enjoyed each other's company more. Now more often than not we communicate by email, text message, chat rooms, instant message, or in Internet forums (Facebook, Twitter etc), and a lot of that results in argument and debate. Even actual phone calls are used less often. Couples often split up via text message instead of having to face each other in person.

Source

Body Language, Voice Intonation, and the Three "Cs"

The very fact that we often cannot see or even hear the person we are speaking to leads itself to miscommunication, misunderstandings, and ultimately, arguments. Body language and voice intonation play a large part in conversation and their absence is often the cause of these disputes. We have to imagine the tone that the other person was trying to convey in their writing. Often we get this wrong and base it on our own feelings or prejudices. I am no saint either and have found myself involved in a couple of online arguments. Fortunately, I was eventually able to resolve these disagreements.

I can't make specific references to the incidents I have tried to mediate, only to say that in most cases (not all) the result has been satisfactory. It has usually required some sort of compromise by both parties concerned. I wouldn't say I have a flare for mediation and would prefer to avoid that role if possible, however, I do seem to be able to find a middle ground in most cases and divert a more unpleasant outcome.

In fact one of the situations I refer to has flared up and become more serious since I began to write this. Once again I have had to step in and attempt to deflame the situation, and put the three "Cs" of Conflict Management into action: COMPOSURE, COMPROMISE, COOPERATION.

"think" before we write.

Despite its deficiencies, online written communication has one advantage over face to face and verbal communication (no, not that we won't get punched in the face for insulting someone). We do have time to "think" before we write. We all need to remember to do that in order to avoid misunderstandings.

Let's approach everyone we encounter, both "online" and in "real life" as a potential friend, and make them have to prove themselves an enemy, rather than the other way around.

© 2016 John Hansen

More by this Author


Comments 52 comments

lambservant profile image

lambservant 7 months ago from Pacific Northwest

Oh John, my heart was pierced to the core as I read your heart. You wrote my feelings so accurately. The whole debate and online forum stuff is so discouraging I simply don't participate anymore, only rarely. Written communication, like you said, has the challenge of not seeing or hearing the tone and body language. Some times you know without question that a person is being difficult, hateful, etc. Other times we misunderstand each other's tone. We read between lines that perhaps we shouldn't. And yes, writing gives us more time to think before we write. So unfortunate though that so many don't think. Writing is an easy way to vent. We send the email and immediately regret our words or feel happy you didn't have to do it face to face.

The vitriol in the world today just saps the joy out of your life if you let it. I've turned off the news, quit reading current events recently. I just want to turn off the noise. To be still and know that He is God.

Thank you for sharing. God bless you.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

I try to stay away from the forums because they waste time and lead nowhere. With political rhetoric what it is, I have also stayed off Facebook because people post horrible things about their beliefs and the other side and I just don't care to see the banter. Glad you've popped back up. I had wondered where you were lately.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Lori, glad to know I am not alone in the feelings and concerns expressed in this hub. society and the world, in general, can become very frustrating at times nd it is easy to get disillusioned by people and their behaviour towards one another. Thank you for reading and for your insightful comment.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Flourish, I pretty much agree with you about the forums, they can lead to trouble. I do check the topics occasionally in case there is someone who needs some help I may be able to provide...but I am not a forum addict like some. Politics especially brings out the woest in people. Glad you missed me :)


Harishprasad profile image

Harishprasad 7 months ago from India

This is a very interesting subject. John, it is generally observed that people who are adept at avoiding conflict in their lives are assigned the job of conflict managers in social life. I have successfully convinced some couples to be at peace in their lives, and it is a matter of satisfaction to me that they are now living without a significant conflict. Forums and other discussion fronts create nasty verbal conflicts and are not easy to resolve. I keep a distance from them. It's great that you have been successful as conflict manager at various levels.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading this Harishprasad, and for your interesting comment. I am glad that you have had success in helping couples live without conflict. That is a very worthy achievement. It remains to be seen how successful a mediator I have been. Fingers crossed.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

There are few better feelings than being reviled for creating a compromise that led to peace. One of the best revelations I ever had was when I realized that it was my attitude that caused conflict or resolution and not the circumstance of a situation.

This was a cool hub. Time away from writing is like a field trip to gather more goodies to write about. Thank you for sharing about what is going on and your insights.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

It is always good to see your comment on one of my hubs, Eric. You offer words of wisdom as always. It is indeed often one's attitude that decides resolution or inflames the conflict rather than the actual situation. It is good to be writing something again.


RJ Schwartz profile image

RJ Schwartz 7 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

Great piece - insightful and thought provoking to say the least. With the world heading into what seems to be more turbulent waters, the skills of a good mediator will be in high demand.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 7 months ago from LOS ANGELES

First, I would like to say congratulations on your new site and freelance writing projects. Second, I would like to say great article. I also find myself being distracted by the world and I don't have time to dedicate to my passion as I would like. Like yourself, I constantly draw people who are going through one thing or another and I'm constantly encouraging and motivating broken souls. Although I understand this is what I have been called to do it gets tiring. I would have to say yes, it's my opinion that the world has grown more debatable and seem to thrive on conflict and adversity. I wish you success in your endeavors and I would love to check out your new website.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

I'm with you, buddy. You'll never find me on the forums here at HP because I don't have the desire to argue and I certainly don't have the desire to be insulted. I have never insulted someone with a comment, and I've even thanked people for negative opinions. I'm hoping we all learn to take the kinder, gentler path.


Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 7 months ago from Canada

Hi John, I do think people seem more willing to argue these days, sometimes over such trivial things too...sad really.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 months ago

Jodah - I have missed seeing you here on Hubs. Glad to know that all is well with you. I too try to avoid the forums--there is just so much negativity, or as you said, conflict, and that is a big part of social media. Why now more than in years/generations past? I think it is because the way that we communicate is very impersonal. We tend to forget that there is an actual person on the other end.

Thank you for a timely, thoughtful, and well thought out hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I appreciate your comment, Ralph. Yes, you are right. The world certainly needs a good mediator or team of them in fact to try and bring some sense and peace to these volatile times.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Dana, I am sure you do a great job in the mediation you are called to do. It is a difficult and sometimes tiring job, but very satisfying too I am sure. Unfortunately the world does seem to thrive on conflict. If you wish to check my website go to. creativeexiles.com


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Bill, you are a great example of what we should all strive to be. A lot can be said for pacifism as the way to go..a kinder, gentle path often has more effect.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes, Kaili. That is a sad fact..some people seem to seek out argument over every little thing.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Carb Diva, glad I have been missed. Good to be back writing something and glad you enjoyed this and found it timely. Thanks for the insightful comment.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 7 months ago from Florida

Hey John,

I believe we have all become part of these online conflicts a time or two. I can tell you I try to avoid that stuff. I don't answer many questions here if I think it's going to start friction. I mean, I think we all know I learned that lesson pretty much at the beginning of starting hubpages. And if it's someone who comments on my writing with a negative nasty opinion with hopes to find retaliation from me, or to make me feel bad, well; they will learn that I have learned that it's not worth it.

I will not make a promise that I will never find myself in a situation that I feel I need to put a word in, but I think I've been pretty good at taking it all in and weighing my options before I start typing in a manic of anger. Nobody really resolves anything that way. We all think we are right when these things happen, and there is usually no truce to our own convictions. Therefore, I now vaguely respond, and then I'll forget about it. lol.

We all need a little break from writing sometimes. I haven't had the time to write much either this week. It's been a busy week with my children, and I don't apologize for that, or feel guilty. I don't think you should either. We have families and lives, and when we get stressed over conflicts online, that's who we need to turn to, our family and just take a break. It can be super stressful.

This is a really great discussion piece, John. Enjoyed it! ~Missy


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello John - Congratulations on the new web site. I hope that becomes a success.

I visit he HP forum on the rare occasion. If someone I know asks a question I may take a look. I certainly don't have to show up at the forum to 'pick a fight.'

Good to see you clear your head by writing, from all the hustle and bustle of the world around you.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 7 months ago from southern USA

Hi John,

You've provided a lot of good insight here in navigating today's world of online communication for sure! That is a great point about when texting or emailing, that we do not see the person's body language or hear the tone of their voice, and boy things can get out of hand in a hurry.

I've been away too dealing with family health issues, and communication can get away from us quickly in that area too ...

It is truly a gift to be able to mediate and attempt to always try to be the peacemaker in this life. It is healthy to be able to discuss matters in an adult manner, but best always to not be dragged into gossipping. Gossip has destroyed many friendships as that particular Proverb reminds us.

Peace and blessings


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 7 months ago from San Diego California

I think you are right. Society has been polarizing into stark blacks and whites on issues, with the happy middle ground shrinking like the polar ice cap. One need look no further than the fist fights breaking out on the Trump campaign trail. I've never seen anything like it. Great hub!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Missy, thanks for reading and commenting on this. I know you can relate because I am aware of the disputes you were involved in. At least you learnt something from them which is good. now that I have broken the ice I hope I can keep up writing hubs more regularly again. we shall see.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi, Mike. Good to see you. I am the same as you in regard to HP forums...and never go there looking to argue. whatever your real life situation, if you sit and think about it, you can usually find something to write about.. even if it isn't what you have planned. They say things happen for a reason and I think maybe that's right. I am behind in my reading of other hubs too (I think there is a carriage driver to catch up on too).


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good to see you, Theresa. thanks for the wonderful comment. You are certainly right about the evils of gossiping. I hope your family health issues have improved too. Blessings.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for the interesting comment, Mel. Why oh why does politics and religion stir people up so much...especially in recent times?

I agree, society does seem to be polarizing into stark black and white...and no middle ground. I hope it turns around.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean

So Jodah, seems that you are called to write; and you're called to mediation. You marry these two callings well in this article. I especially appreciate the counsel in your last paragraph. Thank you.


Patricia Hollins 7 months ago

I can completely agree with this miraculous article. The world today is filled with dishonesty, and conflicts at every level of society. You will be surprised at the percentage of conflicts between regular neighbors in many communities over insignificant things like how much does one person have over another; aren't your personal gains suppose to be private, maybe there is no such thing as privacy anymore.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 7 months ago from Southern Illinois

I made the mistake of going to the forums and defending a fellow hubber who had written poetry. Needless to say, I learned my lesson. I received an email from a member of your new site wanting my opinion. I do not feel qualified to comment since I have just joined and have written nothing on the site. One of my favorite poets, Vincent Moore invited me to join. I was hoping it would just be a site where you could write from your heart and not worry about ratings. Red dot, green dot, who cares?


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Ruby, you were probably wise to wait until now until committing yourself to my new site. We did have a few teething problems which was only to be expected. The open forum has given everyone a chance to express their views and I am very happy with the result. We have a new direction and are no longer focused on achieving certain coloured dots..you can certainly write from the heart now, so come join in. It is an exciting time.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading this Patricia and for your wonderful supportive comment. I have personally experienced neighbourhood conflict. It can be nasty.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Ms Dora. I try my best :) Blessings to you..


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 7 months ago from Shelton

Jodah, life happens.. and it does get in the way of almost everything, but that's a good thing.. I stopped visiting hub pages three years ago for almost a full year.. every now and then I put a piece together.. even now I try to get one in every two weeks.. but I have other outside interests like you do.. well nevertheless... the hub is spit-fire and right on.. keep life going and keep your writing going too... it'll be missed if you fog away like so many hubbers of yesterdays... :) Frank


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for the encouragement, Frank. I am in it for the long haul. Life has got busy and I may not be writing as much as I was here for awhile, but that will change once things settle down. Cheers.


swalia profile image

swalia 7 months ago

I try to stay away from arguments and conflicts but you can't really avoid them. A great advice about the three C's!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading, Swalia. I hope this is helpful to someone. You are wise to try and stay away from conlict.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 6 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hi John...

I'm so pleased to know that you are getting freelance work.

We all need good mediators, John, like you. I would say that perhaps this is more important now than in the past, but when has this need not existed? We haven't lived in that past as an adult, but there are more of us now than before. And the world has become more complex and communication more accessible because of "email, text message, chat rooms, instant message, or in Internet forums (Facebook, Twitter etc)." People use these forums to vent their anger and frustration that go deeper, I think, than the issues they choose to debate and to argue.

"Let's approach everyone we encounter, both "online" and in "real life" as a potential friend, and make them have to prove themselves an enemy, rather than the other way around."

No truer or more important words, spoken. If we can reason with respect for that person and utilize those three C's, , then reason almost always prevails. We need more John Hansen's online! Bless you. This is a hub that should be read and considered by everyone. :-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Genna, I really appreciate you and your encouraging and generous comment. Yes, mediators have always been needed but are probably more valuable now than ever. Thank you so much. Have a great day.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 months ago from England

Yes so true, make them a friend first. This made me think of my office where I used to work, we had one harridan woman, lol! she was a real pain! she came from up the north of England, I am south, so that explains it! harsh and knew it all! she made three girls leave, me nearly strangling her, and the boss about to sack her for insulting him! mediation is the key!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks, Nell. Glad this brought back some memories. Yes mediation will always be needed.


annart profile image

annart 6 months ago from SW England

I avoid confrontation like the plague so it pains me if I inadvertently upset someone with something I've written. So far, it's only happened once and was totally unintentional; my words were taken the wrong way.

As well as thinking carefully, we should perhaps read our own words out loud, to avoid some of the possible misunderstandings. That can make a difference if we actually hear the words externally.

I agree totally with your approach. A wordsmith should be able to choose his or her words to convey exactly what is meant, with balance and awareness of its effect.

Funny that you've had similar reasons to me for not writing much lately. I've been able to read a few hubs now and then but haven't had time to sit down for long enough to compose a decent hub. Plenty of ideas, no time! I know I should make time but physical work on a house has just worn me out lately - perhaps I should just talk about that as each day takes us nearer to our goal! It would be a bit tedious to read though, I feel.

I do find that the longer I leave it, the more I miss it but, strangely, I'm beginning to feel less confident too! We do need to write regularly; use it or lose it, eh?! I've just talked myself into a hub....

Great stuff, John. I'm enjoying reading your work and glad you're back amongst us more often again.

Ann


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 6 months ago from Stillwater, OK

I don't have time for many of the things that you mentioned, and I tend to stay out of the conflicts, anyway. They are not my cup of tea and I don't have time to mediate anything. I believe there has been conflict since the dawn of time in the Middle East, and humanity in general seems to enjoy it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

It is great to get a comment from you, Ann. I hadn't seen you around much either and it is interesting that we have similar reasons. Good luck with your renovations and I look forward to reading the hub you just talked yourself into.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Deb, you are wise to stay out of conflicts. As you say, it seems there has always been conflict in the Middle East. They don't really know life without it. For that reason the west should stay out of it.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

John

It took me a while, but I eventually realized that you can have good, lively and sometimes difficult discussion that can have good outcomes but it takes grace and a willingness to accept that those you're 'discussing'with will probably still see things differently but as long as there's grace and a willingness to be challenged (and change if need be) then it can be good.

I think HP (and by extension the internet in general) there's a lot of debate/challenging discussion goes on but very little grace!

This was a good dealing with the subject, it's just for me I try to show grace that allows both sides to hold their opinions yet give the other side room to hold theirs.

Great to see you back.

Lawrence

By the way the Mid East has a saying

"Me against my brother

Me and my brother against my cousin.

Me and my cousin against the world"

Thats why the west will never understand the region!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I think you are right Lawrence, "Grace" is what is needed in all discussion. Unfortunately, it is often missing, Thank you for sharing that Middle Eastern saying. No wonder the West has trouble understanding their reasoning. Good to be back.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 6 months ago from New Delhi, India

Your hub topic seems so relevant in today's scenario, when people seem more willing to argue and oppose each other, sometimes even over trivial matters. Sometimes people don't hesitate in posting abusive comments on social media. This is really sad and a bad trend.

I avoid argumentative people because I am very poor at arguments. I just wish that each one should give the other one space and try to find a solution by peaceful discussions.

Thanks for sharing this useful hub!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Well said, Chitrngada. I couldn't agree more. I can tell you are a peace loving person.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 6 months ago from Oklahoma

Wonderful analysis of this much needed skill set.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Larry. It sure is necessary at times.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 6 months ago from Central Florida

John, I love your last line. I always trust first until and unless someone proves to be untrustworthy. People often say you have to earn trust, but I think if we start out with a positive attitude and believe that most people are good, we save a lot of time and have more time to enjoy each other.

My glass is always half full. Why waste time being a Negative Nelly?


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good to see you, Shauna. Yes, I feel the last sentence is probably the most important in the whole hub. I think we are very like-minded in how we see the world.

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