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How can conflict be healthy? (Part 1 of 2)

Updated: Apr 22



I asked the participants of my recent class (“Open Minds: Learn, Work and Achieve More Together”) what they thought were signs of healthy conflict.

The class offered the following

Signs of healthy conflict:

-- Curiosity -- Humility -- Connection -- Commitment to stay in relationship -- Willingness to listen -- Respect for the person -- Dialogue, not monologue -- Absence of contempt -- Physical and psychological safety -- Cultural awareness


Contrast these with four indicators of what Amanda Ripley terms “high conflict.” (Amanda is an investigative reporter who has covered disasters, war zones and politics and wrote the book, High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out.) Ms. Ripley cites four signs of "high conflict":

-- Humiliation: someone feels humiliated, whether they should feel that way or not -- False binary identity: thinking “I’m right / you’re wrong” or one side is superior -- Corruption: systemic unfairness that causes people not to trust institutions -- Conflict entrepreneurs: persons or organizations benefitting from the conflict

Ms. Ripley points out that shifting out of high conflict isn’t easy but it can be done.

What do you do to shift from unhealthy conflict to healthy conflict? Share your ideas below!


Photo credit: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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