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Courageous Conversations

High Conflict

High Conflict

In dialogue and discussion, conflict can be beneficial or harmful. But it's important to watch out for "fire starters" who accelerate conflict -- this can lead to violence.  Learn about the skill of "looping for understanding," a listening practice that helps people feel understood. When people feel understood, they are more open to understanding others. By identifying conflict and listening well, we can take action in helping to dial down conflicts in our family, workplace, and social and civic life.

What is the difference between

good conflict and high conflict? 

Learn about different types of conflict and then discuss: 

  • Can you think of a time in your life when conflict was actually useful? When you learned something you didn’t know—about yourself, the problem or the other person? What happened?

  • Now think about a conflict you’ve experienced that was more harmful than helpful. It can be political or personal, big or small. What happened?

Listen In

Discussion Support Tools 
Bring this discussion program to your school or community


🍎 High Conflict Lesson Plan.  Introduce the different types of conflict that lead people to become “closed” to ideas --or embrace complexity and the possibility of surprise.

💙 Make a copy of the Google Slide Deck for this topic.  You can then edit your copy as needed.

❤️ Video Summary. Learn about how to distinguish between “good” conflict which is difficult but also productive and useful and “high conflict” which can lead to personal pain, social hardships, and even violence and war.

Reading and Discussion. Learn about the five steps needed to reduce high conflict in relationships that matter. 

Planning GuideEverything you need to offer a Courageous Conversation in your community. 

For Educators  
Address RI state standards with curated curriculum resources 

SL.X.1  Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

CG.P.1: Identify what political power is and who has political power in a society.

🌈 Listening Matters. Learn about the listening technique called "looping for understanding" and practice it in a real-life situation. 

😎 Curated List of Resources. Get inspired with these great resources for teaching and learning. 

📌 Creative Expression Ideas. Engaging ideas for project-based learning and simple media production.

What You Can Do 

Keep Learning

​Learn More About High Conflict

Watch the Courageous RI podcast with Amanda Ripley and Renee Hobbs (Episode 4) to learn even more about how journalists and media professionals can learn new ways to tell stories without intensifying high conflict.


Insights on Transforming Conflict into Curiosity

Watch a video interview with Mónica Guzmán on political conflict in the family and how we can activate curiosity and build bridges in dangerously divided times. 

Domestic Violence Hurts Us All

Being verbally harassed or physically assaulted leaves lasting marks. Add a gun into the equation, and the scenario is exponentially threatening. One in four women and one in nine men have experienced severe forms of physical intimate partner violence. What can we do about it?

Bank Failures and Fear for the Future

By exploring history and looking at the forces that are behind today’s divisiveness, we can gain perspective to see beyond fears and outrage to remember that our elected leaders are also our fellow citizens.

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