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  • Writer's pictureBarb Bickford

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

Updated: May 2

What can we do to shift from unhealthy conflict to healthy conflict?

I asked the participants of the course “Open Minds: Learn, Work and Achieve More Together” what they thought.

Here's what they came up with:

  • Be a role model

  • Prepare for conversations and be mindful of intention

  • Excuse ourselves until we are more calm

  • Disengage when necessary

  • Use Liberating Structures with groups to empower everyone

  • Go with a spirit of curiosity and adventure

  • Practice self-awareness and pause when triggered

  • Notice when we dehumanize the other person

  • Let others know we care about they have to say

  • Practice dialogue

  • Ask for support to stay regulated

  • Move away from right/wrong thinking

  • Notice the language of judgment

  • Vocalize a desire for understanding

  • Take deep breaths

  • Make eye contact

  • See the other person’s humanity

  • Be curious about the person’s needs

  • Listen openly and with curiosity

  • Listen to understand, not to respond

  • Be willing to adjust our opinion or behavior when we can

  • Maintain respect for the other person even when things are difficult

  • Refuse to listen to or cooperate with the “conflict entrepreneurs”

  • Avoid doing anything that would publicly embarrass anyone

  • Intervene on our own binary thinking and enlarging our “us” to include “them”

  • De-normalize violence by saying “it is never OK to be violent” when we witness violence or threats

Heaven knows, this kind of shift is not easy. I know very few people who are good at it! But we have to start somewhere, and we must start with ourselves. We can:

  • Watch for signs of unhealthy conflict that might lead to violence (see part 1 of 2).

  • Recognize that there ARE things we can do to shift unhealthy to healthy conflict.

  • Chose to practice and develop habits that can help de-escalate unhealthy conflicts.

What new habit for shifting conflict will you practice today?

Here is Part 1 of 2 of this article.


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Photo Credit: CherryDeck on Unsplash

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