Conflict and Critical Thinking

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Conflict can arise when individuals have major differences in opinions or positions

There is nothing inevitable about conflict

It might appear to be an inevitable result of discussing topics such as abortion or animal rights, and it might seem unavoidable when your business partner and you have vastly different views on how to best deal with a disgruntled employee. But the truth is that there is nothing inevitable about conflict.

We can have disagreements surrounding contentious or important issues without getting into fights or screaming matches. What’s more is that debates which typically arise the most conflict are those for which there is no clear answer. I might have persuasive reasons for my position, but you may also have good reasons not to accept my reasons. Whatever our reasons are, we will never know the quality of our position if we don’t scrutinize them, and in order to scrutinize them we need to entertain and engage alternative perspectives. This skill — being receptive and charitable to the reasoning of others — is an essential aspect of critical thinking skills. Such receptivity is essential to avoiding conflict with others whom we disagree with. We can never better our business, our relationships, and ourselves if we don’t become better listeners and, therefore, better reasoners. In other words, we better our business, our relationships, and ourselves by cultivating our critical thinking skills.

Communicating effectively

But some people have trouble clearly communicating the reasons behind their positions. Sometimes resentment builds, and it becomes difficult to communicate disagreements in a calm and respectable way. If you experience these barriers to communicating effectively at your business or in a relationship, that’s okay! Developing a clear understanding of the reasons behind our positions is not easy to begin with. As such, it’s common for people to have difficulty communicating those reasons. If you recognize that you have trouble expressing yourself clearly, or that you get easily heated when people express their dissent, give yourself pat a on the back. Why? Because recognizing that you need help getting to the core of your conflict is the first step to bettering your critical thinking and communication skills.


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