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  • Deb Kleinman

Making Conflict Less Scary

I am not a huge fan of conflict. I have become less conflict averse in my middle years, but it still activates my lizard brain when people yell at each other, and especially when someone yells at me.


Through training and practice as a facilitator, mediator, and coach, I've learned to value constructive conflict as an often necessary step in bridging difference and solving complicated problems. Working with a coach last year helped me understand how my physiological response to conflict, and identify a body-based mindfulness practice to help me soothe that lizard. Sometimes I find myself literally saying to an imaginary green reptile perched on my shoulder, "It's ok, I've got this. I'll holler when I'm about to get eaten."



We all learn about conflict through our upbringing, culture, education, workplaces, lived experiences, and relationships. Some of the lessons and strategies we learn are effective, and others are particularly ineffective. In the US today, we do not have a culture that supports healthy conflict. Exhibit A: the national dialogue on [fill in the blank]. It's not surprising that many of us need to relearn how we are and behave in the middle of a wicked situation.


A few weeks ago I completed a training on a comprehensive conflict coaching framework. This 4-stage process helps people better understand conflict from multiple perspectives; analyze conflict through the interconnected lenses of power, identify, and emotion; develop a strategy for how to manage and move through conflict; and identify skills and resources they need to be successful. This happens over the course of 4 sessions (fewer, longer sessions if someone is in a time crunch), and as with all coaching is action oriented and results focused, aimed at helping people manage real life conflicts more effectively.


Knowing the negative impact that unresolved conflict can have on people individually and collectively, this approach can make a real difference in the culture and environment in your business or organization, and help individuals manage conflicts at work and at home. Reach out to me if this could help you.


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