When you face problems in your lives, don’t resort to the use of force, try to employ dialogue to find a solution. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
Everyone faces issues or problems at some point in their life. The question is what do you do when you find yourself in such a situation.
The quote urges us to resist using force. Obviously, if your issue is a large rock in your path, talking to it isn’t going to do much. This is a case when force is necessary to get the job done, right?
However, when we’re dealing with an issue with another person, the first tool we reach for should not be force, but dialog. Force escalates situations, and while dialog can also do so, unlike force, it can also de-escalate tensions.
The quote doesn’t explain why, but I imagine your experiences have been like mine, and you have an idea. The shortest path to a true and lasting agreement is dialog.
Why is dialog important?
Dialog is more than talking. In fact, the most important part of dialog is the listening which you do while the other person is speaking. If you don’t listen, you can’t understand. If you don’t understand, you will never be able to help them resolve the issue.
And that is the only way things will be truly resolved. Yes, you can use bluster and be overbearing or even use the hint or threat of force to get your way. But has the issue been resolved, or has it merely been delayed? Is it done for good, or, like a horror movie, will it be back and start all over again?
Dialog, done properly, allows both parties to express their needs and their wants, and helps everyone find the common ground. That can be agreed to rapidly, while discussions over the things around the edges proceed. If I give you this, will you give me that?” And then begins the back-and-forth.
For dialog to work, one must be willing to listen, and to be honest. If you hide things from others, and use tricks to get what you want while denying them what they want, the agreement will not last. In short, you have defeated yourself through duplicity. Don’t do that.
Where can I apply this in my life?
How often do you discuss or have a dialog with others? Family, friends, co-workers, your boss, social or professional acquaintances, etc? Often it is simple chatter, nothing serious. But there are times when an issue is being resolved. How open and honest are you in these situations? How well do you listen?
To me, those are the two keys to attaining a lasting agreement which solves the issue or problem facing the parties. If either party feels slighted, lied to, or otherwise deceived and used, they aren’t going to abide by the agreement for very long, are they? That is just the way things go in life.
If your memory goes back far enough, you can probably find an instance from the days on the playground or after school activities when two people discussed a situation, made an agreement. Later, sometimes mere moments later, one breaks the agreement, and the other says the agreement is void because they lied or cheated, right?
So we need to be honest, or the foundation of the agreement discussed is nothing but lies. And that doesn’t work out very well, does it? Short of completely destroying the ability of the other side to resist, force only compounds, or at best, delays the problem.
Those of you familiar with history might consider the period between World Wars as an example of the effectiveness of force being used to solve a problem. Instead of solving it, it only delayed it and made the situation far worse. Unfortunately, those who have the most to gain, or lose, seem slowest to learn this lesson.
So the question before us is the use of force, or even the desire to use it. How often do you feel the temptation? How often do succumb? Whether physical force, abuse of authority, intimidation, or any other threatening mannerisms, that is the use of force, and something to be avoided if possible.
What can you do to redirect yourself in these situations? What can you do to defuse yourself? Take a moment and consider the last few times you have considered using force before dialog. Is there a pattern? Do certain thoughts go through your head each time before you select force over dialog?
If you can recognize the things which tend to send you down the less desirable path, you can start taking action to slow yourself down and consider your options before simply head off down the path of force. After all, this isn’t Star Wars, and that’s not the Force you’re supposed to be using.
Just remember, not everyone will be reasonable, and you may have to use force in defense of yourself or others. But if you can de-escalate the situation and get a dialog started, everyone will be far better off for your efforts.