Family Relationships

12 Insights for Healthy Conflict


Healthy conflict begins by planning ahead, and learning how to have conflict calmly, maturely, and kindly. Dr. Gary Oliver gives you 12 ways to have healthy conflict.

1. Conflict is a natural phenomenon and is inevitable. An occupational hazard of being human is that we will experience conflict.

2. Conflict involves both personal needs and relationship needs.

3. Most conflict is not dealt with openly because most people have not been taught effective ways of resolving conflict. When there is conflict, most of us tend to personalize it, interpret it as an attack, and magnify negative implications of statements.

4. Conflict provides opportunities for growth in a relationship.

5. Unresolved conflicts interfere with growth and satisfying relationships. Problems don’t magically disappear. They go underground and grow and develop into other problems.

6. As we understand the value of conflict, we can allow it to serve a more positive and constructive role in our lives.

7. The more we try to deny, hide from, overlook, and otherwise avoid conflict, the greater the problem becomes.

8. It is normal to feel defensive when challenged or criticized; thus conflict often involves anger.

9. Conflict isn’t good or bad, right or wrong…conflict simply is. It is how we choose to respond to conflict that produces the growth or creates the real problem.

10. If we want conflict to serve a constructive role in our lives, pursuing healthy conflict must become a priority.

11. Constructive conflict involves a commitment to serve one another, encourage one another, and be vulnerable with one another. In the early stages, it involves caring enough to be willing to take some risks.

12. Constructive conflict involves a commitment to stop, look, listen, and then – maybe – speak.

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