This traditional zen koan, or story, beautifully illustrates the reason that it’s so hard to change someone’s mind when they’re certain they’re right.
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Conflict is the professor’s teacup, full of judgments, diagnoses, opinions, attributions.
If, in your next business conflict conversation, you could empty your own teacup, I wonder what you might notice that had no room for you to notice before.