Victim, Prosecutor, Judge and Jury

Legal disputes happen in our courts every day but what about our personal, petty clashes that occur in the workplace and home on a daily basis. How can we resolve them?

Imagine someone has an issue with you and has accused you of doing or saying the wrong thing. What if you disagree with their accusation? How does one resolve such a situation and is there a simple process that we can agree to use?

I recently had a problem like this, where I was accused of doing wrong by someone. They claimed to be the victim and only had their memory as evidence. I explained to them that we live in a civilised society where we deem everyone to be innocent until proven guilty.

I say that the belief that we are all “innocent until proven guilty” is the default or neutral position required from us all. In law they do it by splitting people up. Some act as prosecutors and others act as the defence, and we have the Judge and sometimes the jury. The problem is that the accuser in the petty dispute usually sets themselves up as the victim, prosecutor, judge and jury.

Needless to say the accused does not look like they have much of a chance to clear their name. My accuser’s response was “In science they begin with an hypothesis and search out the evidence”. Unfortunately as she has now become the judge and victim her scientific judgement seems also clouded. It looks like she left out a step or two in the scientific process.

  1. Ask a Question
  2. Do Background Research
  3. Construct a Hypothesis
  4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  6. Communicate Your Results
    ref Science Buddies

I would even consider adding one more step at the start i.e. to observe. Her very nature to get the scientific process so wrong, I think, is another indication of her entrenched bias.

So how do we get around such entrenched bias in our society and what process can we use to help us solve petty disputes without having to write a scientific paper on every daily personal conflict?

Below is my suggestion that comes from an ancient text that is much more a legalistic than scientific approach.

  1. First get an agreement, before any disputes occur, on the following process, so that they willing agree to use it during the next dispute and will be well aware of their responsibility.
  2. Go directly to the person that I have the dispute with and tell them of my issue using Adjustable, Accountable and Acceptable language.
  3. Get their version of events in equally acceptable language if possible
  4. If we are unable to resolve the dispute bring a witness or two to establish each other’s point of view and to get some feedback from the observer/s.
  5. If still unable to resolve the dispute bring the issue up before our extended common group. That may be a club, family, workplace etc.
  6. If I am still unable to resolve the dispute after all of this then it is time to part company with them

The fact that I would be willing to go to this effort to resolve our dispute gives me kudos that I must have really believed I have a valid case.
But ultimately our peers decide. If the person that had the dispute with me or I had with them did not have such a valid case, I somehow doubt it would ever get to step 5, as such a threat to be exposed as a fraud, in front of our peers, can have a huge effect on our behaviour, especially if we are in the wrong or unsure. It seems like a great way to reel in our egos and to stop the malicious gossip that most people seem to revert to release them of the tension that such disputes cause but does not go a long way to resolve them.

This procedure is a couple of thousands years old but I am not aware of any group or organisation that uses such a method to resolve our personal disputes today.

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