Thursday, September 8, 2011

Conflict in my immediate environment - My Reflections

A conflict in my immediate environment that readily comes to mind is that which is caused by differences of political opinion. Political affiliation in our society is largely influenced by ethnic/religious relations with the politicians themselves and has less to do with political ideologies, credibility, or trustworthiness of the politicians.

During discussions o issues, I sometimes find myself at opposing sides with people whose outlook to politics is influenced by the ethnic or religious beliefs of a particular politician. Once they share a common religious faith or ethnic origin with a politician, they are never willing to question his actions and policies and wouldn’t listen to anyone questioning his actions or policies, even if it is apparent that the actions or policies are detrimental to public good.

Though none of my personal encounters has ever degenerated into open fights, but I have seen many people start bloody fights over such political discussions which are caused by myopic leanings. When I find myself in a discussion with someone whose political beliefs are based on ethnicity of religious beliefs, my most common method of diffusing tension is allowing the other party enough time to air their views while I attentively listen. This listening technique often allows me to hear them through and understand them even if I feel their view is wrong!

When they seem to have finished, I usually come in by first highlighting the points on which we mutually agree (e.g. “I can see that you agree that Nigeria belongs to all of us”, “I agree with you when you say corruption is the main problem of our country, but do you think anyone should be immune from anti corruption laws simply because of his ethnic origin or religion?” etc)
Such questions usually enable us to start from points we mutually agree on and then slowly go on to those upon which we disagree. By guiding our conversation to become a form of exploration through issues that affect us both, I am mostly able to change a potential fight to a discussion which even if we don’t agree on all issues, we understand one another.


  1. Ibrahim,

    Looking for common ground is a good way to start a conversation. It works much better than focusing on our differences even though that is the most common way that people relate to each other.


  2. We seem all brought up to defend our points of view (Ego maybe?), but if we are to create and maintain harmonious relationships, we simply have to look for common grounds upon which we have agreements


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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.