Many rivals have become friends or at least friendly enough to avoid fighting. Negotiations representing warring countries to drunk Red Sox and Yankees fans meeting in a bar often get together as amigos. When their conversations center on mutually agreeable topics and on reaching mutually acceptable goals, matters overall tend to get better between these parties. Everyone has similarities and it is easy to find them. As the eminent philosopher Yoko Ono stated “we are all water from different rivers.”
War negotiators may find there is general agreement on ending casualties. Political and business negotiators may recognize they may gain more from allowing various sides to Iall gain rather than all reducing gains for all. A couple should want each to find happiness and respect for each other. Friends all want to experience joyful times Yankees and Red Sox fans both may have an appreciation for the game of baseball (although most scientists believe it may takes decades before they ever truly get along). Conversations focused on areas of mutual interests and goals should set the atmosphere for achieving better relations and arriving at peaceful solutions.
When conversations do not focus on mutual interests and goals, the discussions are more apt to be fail in reaching the mutual goals. If the conversations dwell on whose side is better than the other (i.e. observing the number of World Series won by the Yankees versus the Red Sox), an agreement on issues is less likely to result.
If a foreign negotiation leader is banging a shoe on the table and threatening to bury the other side, it is not likely that this will be followed by a treaty offer. If a couple tell each other negative attributes about each other and how they’d rather be with someone else, the relationships may be troubled.
The work of Muzafer Sharif, a Psychology Professor at Pennsylvania State University, demonstrated that these simple principles are designed to help achieve world peace. He conducted studies where he asked people in a dark room to look at a candlelight. He then asked people to state which direction the light moved. People would see the movement with their own eyes and they would oppose any mention that the light had moved in the opposite direction. How can one disagree with something that one had seen with one’s own eyes? Those who had seen the light move in another direction similarly insisted their position was the one correct viewpoint.
The different sides would discuss their beliefs in which direction the light moved. If discussions contained hurtful words or insults that one’s perception of reality had to be wrong, the harmed party would often take deep offense. This often solidified the position of those who believed their views were correct and made them feel as if the other side was both a denier of reality and harmful to their beliefs. This makes them angry. Their anger makes the other side angrier. If one side believes an attack is coming their way---either verbally in discussions or physically in wars or fights---a preemptive strike may be contemplated, verbally or physically. The disagreements can quickly escalate into wider differences.
The truth of the matter is the candlelight never moved, Having stated that I could declare myself all knowing and demand that all others accept me as their superior. That, though, is for a another discussion. Knowing that the candlelight does not move is not all I know. I also am aware that the human mind, when viewing something in a dark room with no perspective to judge the location of a light with another object often tends to have the mind register the incorrect perception that the candlelight moved. Yet different people will belief the candlelight moved in different directions.
If people are brought together in the same dark room and discussions are cordial, people will begin seeing the candlelight move in the same direction when others state they see such direction. If people argue about which direction the candlelight is moving, others will also have different perceptions of how the candlelight moves. This tends to enhance the disagreements. A movement towards mutual visualization of how the candlelight moves occurs when people verbally agree upon the movements.
Sharif saw this as a useful study not only of the mind’s psychology but also on the interactions of human behavior. He saw this as a means towards getting people to related better with each other. Sharif saw this as a means towards achieving world peace.
The Sharif studies are a useful analogy for world leaders. They often have their own perceptions and they may be intolerant of leaders whose perceptions differ from theirs. When they communicate and keep their discussions of matters upon which the parties involved agree, they can increase the amount of matters upon which they find mutual agreements. They hopefully will become friends rather than enemies, World peace can be achieved.