Resolving Disputes When Logic Collides with Emotion

Posted by Robyn E. McDonald on April 30, 2011  /   Posted in Business Options, Family Options

(Part I of a Three Part Series)

We’ve all seen the ad: the stunning model snuggled up to the nerdy, disheveled genius – and we giggle at the dichotomy. But when we deal with conflict between those of us who are “logical” and those of us who are “emotional,” it’s no laughing matter. (For this discussion, let’s focus on the stereotypically obvious, though either gender can have one or both personality traits.)

Facts & FiguresPeople (“F&F”) revels in his verifiable, tangible data. For him, emotion is secondary; he’s tabulated the correct value of the inheritance, quantified the relevant ratios of a business deal, or the tax ramifications of taking the house in a divorce. To him, his calculations are irrefutable; to question his numbers is to question his integrity, to disrespect his intelligence.

Achy/Breaky’People (“A/B”) on the other hand, are emotional – feelings based; the numbers be damned – the issue is what’s right or what’s fair. To her, the house isn’t an “asset” – it’s home, pseudosacred – an integral part of her world. To award the house to the other spouse or to suggest its sale is an outrage – it’s wrong. To reject an A/B person’s proposal is to reject her (or him). Usually, the A/B person’s demand is unreasonably high – and I guarantee it’s outside the scope of what F&F has considered. This is because the numbers don’t really matter: it’s what she feels she is owedat least in her opinion.

The problem arises when these two people must interact – as a couple, co-workers, or as employer/employee. Facts & Figures people don’t have time for emotional silliness. They know that in a business deal, workplace dispute or lawsuit, somebody pays or gets paid; they’ve figured out their chances of success or failure, and just want to get on with the business of the bottom line – which means – the numbers that they have already crunched; end of discussion.

Achy/Breaky people on the other hand, aren’t sure what they want as a conflict outcome – it depends upon how they feel at the moment: if they’ve been cut out of the will, they feel abandoned, insecure – so, they feel entitled to what whatever they need. If their spouse left them for another, they may be angry and frightened for their financial future. They deserve to be justly compensated for the years of selfless devotion to that miserable soon-to-be ex-spouse. If the boss has given someone else the profitable new project, the A/B person needs vindication. Think of it as “comfort resolution,” – kind of like a warm gooey brownie and a glass of milk at 10pm…

In part II, we offer suggestions for the Facts and Figures Person to move forward productively in a dispute with an Achy/Breaky person.

Continue to Part II: Cheet Sheet for Facts and Figures Person

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