You know those situations where two people are stubborn about opposing points of view, and every time one of them talks to the other they begin by saying "Look" or "Listen", because they're so convinced that they're the one who is right, and the other person is wrong?

There's this problem two guys I know at work are trying to solve. They both insist upon solving it in different ways. I'm reading this e-mail exchange where they keep saying things like: "You just misunderstood what I said...", and "Look, it's like this..." I'll have to jump in tomorrow with some sort of a compromise to end the dispute, and right now I'm still trying to figure that out.

The situation mirrors this other situation I know. I want to find a way to keep in touch and keep talking to someone. And I think they wanted to find such a way, too. But I had my hopes about what it'd mean, and they had their hopes about what it'd mean. And lately a lot of e-mail we exchange is about the differences between our hopes. And our letters begin with "Look" and "Listen", because we're both being stubborn and just expecting the other to change their minds and conform their hopes to our own.

I don't know exactly what compromise I'll offer at work, but it'll probably be some seemingly random mix of technical details taken from their two opposing views. As far as the personal situation, well I don't know. I guess the general difference between work and relationships is the nature of the consequences of giving up. If we give up on solving disagreements at work, then we produce nothing and the company goes bankrupt. If you give up on a relationship, then I guess life goes on. But in the back of your mind you always feel lousy that it had to end so bad, and that you just couldn't work out some sort of way to understand and respect one another enough to retain the friendship.