The Beatles and conflict styles.

If you think of any cluster of people in pop culture — like a band or a sitcom cast — you can usually peg them as a combo of classic conflict styles (collaborator, compromiser, accommodator, avoider, competitor).  As I’ve blogged before, we need to be careful of pigeonholing people into a particular type based on their behavior in a given moment.  But it’s fun to do with celebrities.  Let’s give the Beatles a shot:

John: The competitor, naturally.  The alpha male of the group who forced the band to put Revolution #9 on the White Album.

Paul: This one’s tough, since he and John were pretty competitive, and he arguably broke up the group (despite what the Yoko Ono haters might say).  I’m going to go with the compromiser. Not for his work with the Beatles, but for letting his wife Linda sing with Wings. (She was a talented photographer, a righteous animal rights activist, and more, but singing was not her strong suit.)

Ringo: Easy. The avoider.  Check him out in A Hard Day’s Night.  Lots of solo wandering , all shy and hangdog, while the other three were mugging it up for the camer. (In interviews, he said he was actually too hungover for hijinks.)

George: The accommodator, of course.  He wrote achingly beautiful songs (Something, Here Comes the Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps), but let Lennon & McCartney get the lion’s share of the songs and the spotlight.

So. We’re missing the collaborator.  I’d go with George Martin, their producer, sometimes called the 5th Beatle.  He’s the one who transformed their sound from catchy pop into something magnificent and sublime, integrating their styles, quirks, personalities…and throwing in cellos and piccolo trumpets and calliopes for good measure.  Like a great mediator, he brilliantly facilitated the synthesis of highly disparate ideas to elicit something wholly new.

And with all their lyrics about peace and love and togetherness, the fab four can provide a nice soundtrack for a mediation training.  I’ve often cued up Come Together, Altogether Now, All You Need is Love, and We Can Work it Out during breaks.


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