How to Create a Conflict

How do you create a conflict?

You crush the Third.

What is the Third?

It’s the understanding that is co-constructed between two (or more) people or parties who show up to each other, speak their truths, listen open-heartedly, and respect each other’s different realities.

How do you crush the Third?

Lots of ways. Here’s one:

You make an accusation.

You make a “You statement.”

“You’re stupid!”

“You’re a bully!”

“You’re racist!”

“You’re wrong!”

These accusations might be accurate at some level. But, as “you statements,” they’re only attack weapons. And there are two basic responses to attack:

You can either collapse or fight.

Both collapsing and fighting destroy the Third, that space where creativity, innovation, and mutual understanding can occur.

What if we don’t use “you statements” that crush the Third?

What if we use statements that open the Third, that invite reconsideration? growth? learning?

“I think I’m expecting you to be and think just like me.”

“I’m afraid of you.”

“I am enraged when I am objectified and misunderstood in the same ways over and over again.”

“I disagree with you, but I’d like to better understand your point of view.”

There is so much we can learn from each other. That learning is lost when we use “you statements” that turn opportunities into conflicts — which we can then avoid.

Betsy BurrisComment