First, if we accept the point of view of the other it may mean that we were wrong, that we are not as insightful or intelligent as the other or that by accepting his position we have given him power over us. Accepting the position of the other is often felt as surrender. Sometimes it harkens back to our childhood when big brother or father or mother or the bully down the street was always right because he or they had more power than we. We must not give up lest we be seen as weak, and admitting that the other may be right brings up pain from the past.
Second, I may believe I am right when, indeed, I may be wholly wrong. One does not wish to give up a correct position. To do so feels like embracing a lie.
All of us want to win. Winning pays little respect to the truth or to that which is just. Winning embraces the articles of war, that whatever is necessary to win is acceptable in the genre of war, and arguments are wars. No less.
Fourth, (which may be somewhat akin to the first, above,) we all have a personal image that we must protect. I do not want to be seen by others, and particularly by myself, as weak, as ill advised, as less than worthy, as stupid or as someone who cannot be respected. I will do whatever is necessary to preserve my personal image of myself. The more fragile my self image, the harder I will struggle to preserve it.
Real power comes from the ability to see the beauty and worth of others. I have said that one’s greatest asset may be when one can recognize the genius of others, ( and we all have moments and areas of genius) and to adopt those idea, those gifts, those insights as one’s own. Give me a leader who can fairly evaluate the various positions of his colleagues and assimilate them into his strategy because he will most often win.
The best method I have found for understanding one’s adversary is through role reversal. If I can become my adversary I can understand him, and if I can understand him I can deal with him in a more effective way. This is the teaching of psychodrama. For a description of psychodrama see WIN YOUR CASE, Gerry Spence, St. Martin’s Press, New York, N.Y, 2005