It is said that medieval monks confined to monasteries developed a great way to resolve conflicts. They didn’t want to waste energy fighting amongst themselves when they had political oppression to deal with. Likewise, when egos flair or feelings get bruised at your dealership, you can waste a lot of energy trying to resolve the conflict.

That energy would be better spent on something positive like building your business. So, let’s see how two salesmen arguing over a commission split could use the monks’ method of arguing to resolve their dispute.

Is There a Conflict Between Two Staff Members?

Suppose two salesmen, Larry and Frank, were having a disagreement and the issue had escalated into a full-fledged argument. We’ve all been in those situations.

The monks’ rule was this: Before a person could angrily respond to an accusation or complaint, he had to first repeat what he thought the charge against him was. He had to describe it specifically, in very exact terms, and he had to explain it until the opposing person was satisfied that his complaint was clearly understood.

Back to our example, suppose Larry was angry at Frank and had accused him of hijacking a sale. Before Frank could respond, defend himself or lodge a counter-complaint, he would first have to convince Larry that he understood all the details Larry had said. After convincing Larry that his complaint was clearly understood (not necessarily agreed with), then Frank would be free to say his part.

Next, Larry would have to repeat, in his own words, exactly what Frank had said, which might have been a denial, a counter attack or a rebuttal, and explain it to Frank’s satisfaction. Only then could Larry respond anew.

See the picture? The opponents would spend a lot of time restating what the other side was trying to say. They would do that as much as they defend their own point of view. That dynamic works to pull opposing sides together, instead of driving them apart. The monks were smart to think of this.

We Argue the Most with the People Most Important to Us

Sometimes two people can be saying the exact same thing and still be in an argument. Why does that happen? Because of all the background friction between them. There might be blame of (unspoken) ulterior motives, either true or false. Or it could be simple; they don’t understand exactly what each other wants.

Many times, though, the biggest factor is that one person feels a lack of respect from the other, and then masks his or her reaction to that negative energy with an argument or a complaint.

Tips on Fighting Fair so Everybody Wins
  • By convincing your opponent that you truly understand their complaint, you make him or her feel heard, understood and in most cases respected. After building that bridge, agreeing on the facts and on a solution becomes much easier. The monks knew that.
  • Following the monks’ simple rule prevents an argument from meandering all over the place, and growing all out of proportion.
  • If a person can’t make his opponent understand the complaint, he loses his right to complain further. The conflict ends. He can’t keep on complaining endlessly.

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