The metaphor of an iceberg has commonly been used as a metaphor about conflict. This is on the basis that there are things above the surface that show themselves and then, there is all that is going on underneath. Compared to conflict, some things are obvious to the disputants (and often others) that reflect the dynamic between them, the issues in dispute, and other aspects of the existing dissension. These are above the water ‘line’.
Below the water line is much more. There are hopes, expectations, emotions, needs, values, beliefs, and other deeply held views and feelings. Our individual and collective histories that we bring to the issues in dispute are in the mass below the surface, too. While, for all intents and purposes, this underlying mass appears to be unnoticed or remains unspoken, it has an enormous impact on the interaction. Indeed, it is an integral part of the conflict and who we are within it, within ourselves, and within the relationship.
Yes, some things may be best left unexplored or untouched. However, without increased self-discovery of what is below the surface, we miss the opportunity to better understand and reconcile our motivations and expectations. And to consider what ought to be shared and discussed, and what needs to remain dormant to reach the optimum outcome.
For these Conflict Mastery Quest(ions), consider a conflict in which you see or feel that only the tip of the iceberg is showing itself.
- What about the conflict do you think is fully evident to you and the other person?
What lies beneath that is evident for you but is not likely evident to the other person?
- What concerns you that may be going on for the other person that is not evident to you?
- What outcome do you want?
- Why is that outcome important to you?
- What do you want to leave below the surface?
- How will that help you reach the outcome you want?
- What is there to be gained for the other person if you leave that below the surface?
- What may the other person want to leave below the surface? Why do you suppose?
- Thinking about all this now, what needs to come to the surface to reach the optimum outcome – even though it may be challenging for you and/or the other person?
- What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
- What insights do you have?