The learning curve is steep for new behaviors.

But we already know this intellectually.

When the change is upon us; when the rubber meets the road; when the fear really is living with us full-time; only then do we begin to consider these things emotionally.

The learning curve for defaulting to believing in your version of the story of the conflict rather than mine is steep.

It becomes even steeper when you consider that fear is at the base of refusing to adopt a new practice, a new standard, or a new behavior.

Fear allows selfishness to creep in (“What’s in it for me?”) and pushes out grace. Fear closes the space where forgiveness and reconciliation can grow.

When we want to be right, more than we want to be reconciled, our fear of being wrong (and thus being pushed out of the tribe we’ve built around ourselves in our pursuit of being right) outweighs our fear of what may result from no reconciliation.

The learning curve is steep to overcome this desire, and there are few good recommendations for overcoming it other than the obvious ones.

The recommendations we reject because intellectually they are obvious, but emotionally they are scary.

The first recommendation is to believe and trust that the other party’s worldview (which arrived at the conflict before your worldview did) is both sincere and earnest.

The second recommendation is to act in good faith until those actions are rejected, turned away, or repudiated. When the other party behaves the way they actually are, believe them.

The third recommendation is to avoid zero-sum thinking and move toward growing the options for the other party unselfishly, believing that maximizing value is the point of forgiveness and even reconciliation.

The recommendations don’t take the steepness out of the learning curve, but they do make it easier to navigate.

Jesan Sorrells

Jesan Sorrells

Jesan Sorrells is a CEO | Keynote Speaker | Author - 12 Rules for Leaders | Podcast Host - Leadership Lessons From The Great Books | Ruckus Maker. He believes that every problem, in every organization, can be solved through the intentional application of effective leadership practices. Contact him directly at