There was an interesting question in a form that I had to fill for a job application. How would you resolve a conflict? Now, this is one of those trick questions that can cost your job if you don’t answer it properly. I thought about it and these are some of the things that passed through my mind.
What are the different approaches that one can take when faced with a conflict? Now, as with all questions in life, there is no one single answer to this question. Humans, evolved a variety of natural responses that are deeply ingrained in our minds. Infact, these are the responses that a child exhibits. As the child grows up, and becomes more “civilized” these techniques sometimes undergo a change.
The most reliable, easy and time tested technique is of course crying. People can seldom say no to a torrent of tears. Doing that makes them look rude. Besides, there is, I think, something about crying that sets of programmed responses in the brain. So, rationally speaking, crying is the way to go. Thats also why I think, girls go for it. Now, girls wanted exclusive rights to this potent weapon. It would be pretty useless if everybody depended on it. Imagine an employee crying because her boss just fired her. Immediately, the boss starts crying too and starts to whine about how business is bad and stuff. The technique just results in wasted tears and spoiled make-up. So, they start going for guys who don’t cry due to some massive incapacity for cunning. Over trillions of years this policy results in a race of brain-damaged men incapable of crying.
The next technique is the one that the above mentioned race of brain-damaged men now depend upon to resolve conflicts. Basically, it consists of beating up the other guy until he agrees with you or dies! This method and it’s variants have been used widely by entities ranging from individuals to countries. America under Bush and Arjun A in our batch used to be big fans of this technique.
With the development of automatic weapons and their wide availability the use of this method usually resulted in speedy but messy conflict resolution. People when loaded with lead tend to be very accommodating. But again, the success of this method depends critically on the size of your muscles or weapons. It is also important that you have a clear advantage. Otherwise the results can be far worse than just spoiled make-up.
Excessive reliance on this technique for long has a side-effect. You tend to become dead after a while. Thus, evolved another technique that smarter(still not as smart as girls though) guys use. As is common with smart techniques it is slightly more complicated and has two phases. If there is some jerk with whom you have a bone to pick, you do this to him.
Now, you are in some really deep s**t. Onto phase 2.
This is a secondary approach and is generally used when the second technique has not gone well for you and you want to repair your hurt pride. This technique while not very effective in ensuring happy-endings can be used when you are forced into conflict resolution with a bigger brain-damaged guy and you are interested in getting out of it alive. This also has the advantage of making the other guy look like a lumbering jack-ass. The efficacy of this technique has been demonstrated by Jihadists against America, communists, again against America and me against some widely known criminals. This technique requires some practice and cardio training. But otherwise, it is more or less foolproof.
Eventually, some genetic defect led to the development of the talking-tongue. The development of talking bestowed a survival advantage on humans. The males just use a different frequency for communication of sports news and while they look like they are paying attention to the bothersome females, they are just hearing noise. This greatly sped up the growth of civilization as women stopped having any role in it. Those who doubt this can read the chapter of Genesis in Bible. It’s true! God said so.
After this one thing led to the other and now we have diplomacy. It’s like the story of hair. It evolved to keep us warm, and now it is used to sell Brylcream. Since, this is a new technique, it has a large number of flaws. Basically, it is not very persuasive and does not force a solution. After all, people are more scared of an Uzi than a Larry King. It is also clear that unless there is fear, there is no need for people to be reasonable. And unless people are reasonable there is no way conflicts are going to be resolved by just talking.
Whatever maybe the relative merits of each technique, I decided to listen to my heart and answered “talking” to the question. Hope thats the answer they were looking for.