Conflict to Curious

Conflict to Curious

As we end this month’s theme of curiosity and moving into March’s Theme of Mindfulness, I wanted to get curious about how to deal with conflict mindfully and the only way to start is to realize the root of the conflict. 


We are reading the book “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped And How We Get Out” for the YESbookclub and I wanted to share some quick thoughts from the first section of the book and a few big things that stood out during our bookclub discussion.




Get curious when you start to categorize people. We discussed even something as simple as categorizing people based on how they answer the question “Do you do yoga?” Once you have placed them in a category it automatically places them in an us vs them scenario and we changed how we act and think around them. This categorization is AUTOMATIC, you cannot do anything about it, it just happens. 


You cannot change an automatic system, however you can change the steps after. Notice when the categories become binary, because conflict can start right away when you come from “us vs them.”




“Proving you’ve heard someone is very different from acting like it.” - Amanda Ripley (pg 57, High Conflict)


We all want to be heard and we all want to feel like we matter, the moment we don’t conflict starts. A great tool to help you really listen that Ripley discussed in the book is called “Looping.” It’s basically just repeating or summarizing what the other person said you to. This helps not only show you listened, but it helps you retain what you heard. It puts the other person as the leader of the conversation without you thinking about what you are going to say next. It creates presence, helps show perspective, and actually shows you are listening. 




Ripley discussed FOUR main fire starters in the book. These are basically a lightening bolt on a dry California forest… a massive accelerant for conflict. 


  1. Group Identities: This is a lot like group think. Putting yourself in one group vs another. We all do this with politics, sports, and even something like what sorority you were in or even where you went to college. 
  2. Conflict Entrepreneurs: People who exploit high conflict for their own ends (Ripley’s definition.) The best example other than using names from my own life are the pot stirrers from any of the Real Housewives Franchises. Not only do they cause drama within the group, the group will continue to have that linger over them when that person isn’t even there, leaving little breadcrumbs of conflict everywhere. 
  3. Humiliation: A forced and public degradation; un unjustified loss of dignity, pride, or status. Can lead to high conflict and violence. (Ripley’s definition.)
  4. Corruption


With the discussion of fire starters, we talked about what we feel impacts us most in our lives, where we get trapped most often. We also discussed how we can be part of those who are starting little fires everywhere ourselves. 


A great question to think about this week is a question I asked our group:


What conflict do you continue to add fire to in your “group,” and what fire are you willing to commit to extinguish in the future? 




Get curious this week and journal or notice when conflict arrises. What is the root cause, where can you listen more and what are you accountable for in this conflict? 


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