Building Conflict Resilience


Having different points of view from people we care about can be uncomfortable. But it doesn't have to break your relationship.
Building Conflict Resilience


Is there a way to rebuild relationships when conflict threatens to destroy them? Banyan’s Editorial Director Karen Dillon sat down with Bob Bordone, Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School and Founder and Principal at Cambridge Negotiation Institute, to discuss “conflict resilience”.


Bob Bordone is currently working on a book on the topic of conflict resilience (with Joel Salinas) which is expected to be published in 2024. In the meantime, to see more from him, check out his YouTube channel.

Key Takeaways:

  • Conflict resilience involves being able to hear – and sit within the discomfort of – opposing viewpoints without resorting to immediately taking sides.
  • As a society, we’ve become so uncomfortable with conflict, that we avoid feeling discomfort when someone had a different point of view. We resort to trying to eliminate conflict right away, rather than consider what we can learn from that discomfort.
  • In the past two decades, social media has made conflict resilience harder. We can easily find cohorts of people with the same ideas as us. We have gravitated to “right” and “wrong”.
  • It is important to truly engage with someone with another point of view. Even if you can’t find a common ground, you can gain context and see the multi-dimensions of the person.
  • Conflict isn’t necessarily bad, it can lead to forward progress, innovation, and more. You just have to reframe how you view it and how you confront it.
  • When confronting a conflict situation, first start with yourself. What are your fears about addressing this conflict head on? List them out.
  • People are often afraid to try new techniques for coping with conflict, because of the fear that the situation could end up worse. But even when conflict is difficult, there are still valuable things to be learned from being “present” in the conflict, rather than avoiding it.
  • Developing conflict resilience can make you a better leader and learner. It is also something that needs to be practiced and actively worked towards– not something most of us are naturally gifted with. Sitting in the discomfort, rather than immediately trying to squish it away, is the first step to building conflict resilience.
  • Top 3 tips for building conflict resilience:
    • Reframe the way you think about conflict in your life. You don’t always have to be right or wrong. You can learn how someone else sees the world.
    • Work on developing effective assertion. Part of becoming conflict resilient is becoming better at asserting your own point of view. Without accusations or hostility. The better you are at explaining why you feel the way you feel, the more likely the other side can understand you.
    • Become a good listener. As the old saying goes: you have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.

Time Stamps:

[0:33] What is conflict resilience?

[2:38] Conflict has always been hard for people to deal with, but nowadays it has become increasingly difficult to sit with and deal with the differences of opinions for a number of reasons.

[5:48] Even if you can’t get to a place of agreement, it is still important to talk with the person on the other side because if nothing else, it helps you see them as a multidimensional person and you can see the reasoning behind their opinions.

[10:17] Whether you’re in a family business conflict or an international conflict, you can’t escape it. Which is why the need for conflict resilience is much higher.

[12:04] Conflict typically stems from differences and differences actually can lead you to innovation, new ideas, and much more.

[13:49] How do you get your family and others involved in the conflict in the right space to handle it head on?

[18:30] Breaking the cycle of conflict and addressing the issue in different manner is crucial to getting to a better place. So how do you get there?

[21:33] Facilitators can be helpful in conversations with people who typically are conflict avoidant, but there are also situations where the individuals involved might be less vulnerable with a facilitator in the room.

[24:04] What is the importance of the resilient piece of conflict resilience in the conflict at hand and in life?

[26:56] Bob Bordone’s top 3 tips for building the skill of conflict resilience.


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