A lot of people think conflict is a bad thing. While this can be true in some instances, conflict can also be a very good thing.

Conflict has a bad reputation because it’s often associated with negative things like yelling, screaming, fighting, or arguing. But not all conflict has to end in a screaming match or people not coming to a mutual resolution. 

You just have to know how to engage in healthy conflict. Healthy conflict can actually be extremely beneficial for the relationships in your life and learning how to communicate with one another. Let’s learn more about healthy conflict and how you can engage in it.

What is Healthy Conflict?

Healthy conflict is any type of disagreement that can lead to an end resolution that satisfies all parties involved. This type of conflict typically can lead to increased or strengthened relationships, personal development, and even sparking creativity. Healthy conflict can happen in any scenario, no matter if you’re dealing with a personal or professional matter. True healthy conflict happens when the people involved feel comfortable sharing their ideas or opinions while also being able to fully listen and respect the other person’s ideas and opinions as well.

How You Can Engage In Healthy Conflict

There are many different strategies and approaches that you can use to engage in healthy conflict. Here are some of the most common ways to make sure a conflict remains healthy.

Use “I” Language

When involved in conflict, it can be easy to explain how you’re feeling about a situation but phrase it in a way that may make the other person feel like they have to go into defense mode. This type of response typically happens when “you” statements are used. Instead, try refrasing your sentences and replacing the “you” with “I”. This small change in words can help the other person see things from your perspective instead of feeling like they need to play defense.

Actively Listen

Engaging in healthy conflict doesn’t just mean sharing your side of the story. It also involves listening to the other person or people like they did for you. Show them the same respect so you can see their side of things. Give them time to speak and truly listen to them. This means turning off any and all distractions, leaning forward, and being fully engaged and present with what they’re saying to you. Try not to think about your next points or what you’re going to say next. Make sure you’re not interrupting them either. If you have a question, wait until they’re done so you can clarify and let them know that you understand and you’re on the same page.

photo of two people sitting in chairs talking to each other

Be Mindful of Your Body Language and Tone of Voice

Another thing to consider when engaging in healthy conflict is to pay attention to your body language. Make sure you’re leaning in and fully engaged with the person that you’re speaking with. Be mindful of how you’re sitting and your facial expressions, especially when you’re hearing things that don’t align with your personal opinions. When a conflict is a part of a conversation, it can be easy to let your emotions drive the conversation. Try not to do this. Instead, try taking your emotions out of the mix. Let your own thoughts, ideas, and data speak for itself.

Seek Additional Support

Sometimes healthy conflict means seeking support from an outside third party. It can be nice to see things from a different perspective. Working with a licensed and trained mental health professional can work with you or both you and the person you’re having conflict with to help you better communicate and understand one another. Reach out today to get started with relationship counseling.

About the author(s)

Owner and Clinical Director Karen Conlon Head Shot

Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.

About Cohesive Therapy NYC

At Cohesive Therapy NYC, we believe that you have an immense amount of inner strength and resilience, even if it is yet to be discovered. Cohesive Therapy NYC is a private group psychotherapy practice in New York City that focuses on treating adults who struggle with Anxiety, Trauma, Chronic Illness, and the adult impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Cohesive Therapy NYC therapists see clients all throughout New York State (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, and statewide) using online therapy and are also available for in-person visits in their NYC offices, located at 59 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022. We specialize in helping people who are dealing with anxiety, relationship issues, chronic illness, and digestive and adult trauma related to childhood family dynamics. We all deserve a chance to be well and have support.