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It is not your way or my way; it is a better way.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- In my previous piece, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" (June 6, 2013), I ended by saying that when you are dealing with conflict, it is best to aim for a win-win situation for all parties involved.

You're probably familiar with the terms win-win, win-lose, lose-lose, etc. It doesn't matter who you are. You may be two people from very different backgrounds: One of you is individualistic. You value individual identity and freedom to choose for yourself. You present yourself as confident and independent. The other person is from a conservative and collectivist culture where group identity is important. This person desires to be seen as likeable, cooperative and interested in building relationships. If you are a Westerner living in the Middle East, you will have observed how people from individualistic cultures and collectivist cultures differ (or clash) in the way they want others to view and treat them. When conflict occurs, saving face can become impossible.

If you find yourself in the midst of a conflict or an intercultural misunderstanding, the best thing to do is to try to step back from the problem and find the positive aspects of the situation.

The world is watching as events unfold in countries such as Turkey and Syria and other hotspots. People are wondering what the reason is for the breakdown and how it will be resolved.

Back in the early 1990s I worked as an English instructor for an elite private language school that had a contract with TeletaE-. The company was in the process of merging with Alcatel at the time. It is now known as Alcatel-TeletaE-. One of the strict requirements for their nine-month-intensive language course was to read Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change." This was one of the toughest courses I have ever taught, as the students were aware that their performance in the course was one of the deciding factors on whether they would have a job afterwards or be made redundant.

Those of us who have read Covey's book understand how important it is to try to achieve a win/win situation in any negotiation and to be aware of the other results such as: win/lose, lose/win, no deal, etc. Covey points out in his book to watch out for a person who simply seeks to have it his or her own way. To bring my point home -- millions are watching to see how the protests in Turkey end.

Here is an opinion from a reader who is an American expat who has lived in western Turkey for many years.

"Dear Charlotte: Democracy is not purely majority rule. You and a group of friends want to go to a restaurant, but you're not sure if you should eat Italian or Chinese. It seems everybody except for one prefers kebab. That one person hates kebab and really wants Chinese. Probably in the situation you will talk about it together and choose to eat at the Chinese restaurant. If you take a simple majority vote you miss the depth of feeling of the minority. But depth of feeling or passion matters enormously in group decision-making.

"The ballot box can show a simple majority, but it doesn't reflect strength of feeling. Protests and other forms of direct communication can make these matters clear. The fact, for example, that the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] received a majority of votes means they were preferred over the available options, but it doesn't necessarily imply that they have a mandate to follow their agenda. It may be that a large block of voters weren't really thrilled with AK Party policies, but preferred their leadership to that of the alternatives on the ballot.

"The strong public reaction shown by the Gezi Park protests indicates that there has been a misunderstanding of this simple limitation of voting. A large number of people are protesting -- probably a good-sized minority. They may still be a minority in the polls, but they care deeply about their opinion. A well-functioning and just democracy needs to consider not only the simple majority vote but also the depth of feeling and passion of the entire population. It's not easy, and it's sometimes messy. But that's what democracy is really about." From: Robert Andrews.

Thanks for your comment, Robert! At present it seems people are unaware of each other's different perspectives. Perhaps if they could be more aware, they could work things out. To find a win-win, it is best to remember: It is not your way or my way; it is a better way!


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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Jun 10, 2013
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