People are Like Icebergs

From Kathleen Kauth’s blog

Iceberg Principle


The iceberg principle states that while you may see the tip of an iceberg (usually about 1/10th of it), the vast majority of it (9/10ths) is deep beneath the water, hidden from view.  This massive amount of ice affects everything about the iceberg – where it drifts, how hard it impacts when it runs into things (looking at you Titantic) and how fast it moves.  Just looking at it, you would have no idea that there were tons and tons of cold, jagged ice dragging around under the apparently free floating thing of beauty you see.


People are Icebergs


People are a lot like icebergs.  What they present to the world is usually only a small portion of the entirety of themselves.  You may be exposed to someone who appears collected and calm.  They may be stressed and angry.  They may be distant and aloof.  What you see is directly affected by what they carry around with them under the water.  

Dealing with Conflict


In conflict situations, what is being presented to you as the problem may not be the whole issue.  Sometimes people in conflict are channeling issues that others don’t know about, and therefore can’t understand (they might not even understand it).  When you are involved in a conflict with someone and you are confused about what the issue is, or why it is being strongly reacted against, take a second to think about icebergs.  It is possible the individual has much more going on than you know – either from their past or their present.  Patience and empathy can help you ask if there is something else bothering them.  Be direct, but be kind – and take a look under the water.


Kathleen Kauth

Kathleen Kauth is President/Owner of K.T. Beck Enterprises, LLC a Mediation and Business Consulting firm which focuses on using Mediation techniques to help individuals, families and businesses resolve conflicts. With areas of interest in Eldercare and Business Mediation, we are able to provide a wide variety of personalized services.   MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Pandemic Pivot – ADR Poised for Prominence During Recovery

Published November 2020 in the Michigan bar Journal.On January 1, 2020, “zoom” was  a verb, a noise a car makes.  Three months later, Zoom be came a noun. It happened...

By Tracy Allen

Who Won?

Now that another one of those trials of the century that Los Angeles seems to enjoy about once a decade has concluded (I'm talking about the McCourt divorce trial of...

By Joe Markowitz

Arbitration and Access to Justice: Economic Analysis

Disputing Blog by Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, Beth Graham, and Holly Hayes Omri Ben-Shahar, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, has written a thoughtful paper entitled...

By Beth Graham

Find a Mediator