The Gift of Conflict


How do you respond when conflict arises? Do you speak up or shirk away? In this TED Talk, Amy Gallo, the author of the HBR “Guide to Dealing with Conflict,” explores why people avoid disagreements and shares tools for how to navigate conflict with compassion and confidence.

The Learning Upshot

After completing the work on this page, you will be able to:

  • Know that conflict is a gift
  • Experiment with 3 tools to improve how you approach conflict
  • Recall a phrase to diffuse negative emotions surrounding conflict

Watch the Video

Make It Actionable

Now it’s time to personalize it. Give this concept some momentum in the workplace and your own life by trying the following:

1. Why is conflict a gift? Name 2-3 benefits of conflict.

2. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate yourself on the following statements. 1 = almost never, 5 = almost always

  • Approaching conflict is easy for me
  • I speak up in conflict
  • I am comfortable disagreeing with others
  • I listen with curiosity
  • I approach conflict with confidence
  • I approach conflict with compassion
  • I approach conflict with calmness

3. Conflict won’t always go well. Recall a time when conflict did not go so well. Thinking back, what trait (Q2 above) or strategy (Q5 below) might have helped in the situation or fostered a better outcome?

4. Repeat this mantra out loud three times (drumming optional): “Sometimes People are Going to Be Mad at You and That’s Okay.”

5. Find a conflict for which you have a contributing role. Important note: Do not create a conflict only for the purpose of practicing this exercise, just find one that is happening or about to happen. Employ one (yes, just one) of the following strategies in this conflict:

  • Step into their shoes and try to see the conflict from their perspective
  • Figure out what you want to get out of the conversation (your goal)
  • Don’t take it personally

6. After having completed the previous exercise, reflect on your own or discuss with others:

  • How did the use of your chosen strategy affect the outcome?
  • What did you discover about yourself?
  • How do you intend to employ this strategy going forward?

7. Bonus (optional): During a conflict, employ all three strategies (not just one). Reflect on these questions:

  • How did using all three strategies affect the outcome?
  • How easy or difficult was this for you?
  • How can you activate these strategies going forward?

Want More?

Dig deeper on this topic with the following resources:

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