Conflict is all around us. It is part of life; it is part of people figuring out how to live with and around each other. Conflict, even when intense or painful can be productive, healthy. It can support growth, learning and problem solving.
There is a special type of conflict that is different; it is ugly.
High conflict is the kind of conflict that drags you in and takes over. Things get blown out of proportion. It is no longer about solving a specific, perhaps small problem. Indeed, the original issue may be long forgotten. Rather it is about us against them. We see this all around us, often in politics. When you hear “polarization,” you should think “high conflict.”
The examples she covers include small town neighborhood politics in the Bay Area north of San Francisco, gang warfare in the streets of Chicago, the civil war of Colombia and the troubles of Northern Ireland. Though some people are more prone to high conflict than others, virtually no one is immune.
The book provides useful language to reason about conflict as well as theoretical grounding and practical tools for thinking about and navigating real-world experiences. You will learn about conflict entrepreneurs, the illusion of communication, the idiot-driver reflex, conflict fire starters, and much more.
This is important
Particularly in today’s climate, high conflict seems easy to find. Social media technology platforms often amplify and exacerbate it. Given its destructive potential, I think it is very important to build an understanding of it to navigate through or around it successfully.
I highly recommend this book for that. Amanda Ripley is an excellent journalist and author.