Becoming a Possibilist

“Possibilists are people who look at conflict and see not just obstacles, but they see opportunities to explore ways to transform those conflicts.” Author and negotiation expert William Ury’s opens his discussion on Sounds True’s Insights at the Edge podcast with this explanation of what it means to be a possibilist.

The respective endgames of climate change, political unrest, state conflicts and other headline-grabbing events are not as predetermined as we sometimes believe. And while world events are big, the solutions as a possibilist, start small, with the relationships and conversations available every day. “Be curious, and out of that curiosity, out of those open-ended conversations, out of that listening, people naturally start to feel heard. They start to feel respected, they start to feel seen, and then new possibilities emerge from that conversation.”

It can be easy to discard this wisdom as too hard, or too idealistic; however, Ury shares story after story about some of the most embedded, intransigent conflicts where setting aside defense mechanisms, weapons, and retaliation and picking up possibility, has led to surprising, unexpected outcomes. [Read more ...]