Turning Points

'How can differences turn into conflict?'


Based on Robert R. Stains, Essential Partners


When differences threaten our deepest passion and identities,

the likely results are:


Destructive Communication

Harmful Polarization

Painful Conflict

When communication becomes destructive,



Narrowed perception: rigid thinking and self reinforcing logic

Narrowed memory: seeing the other’s ‘bad’ and our ‘good’

Narrowed reasoning: slogans, generalizations, and stereotypes

When destructive communication patterns are reinforced,



Limited Exposure: We withdraw into bubbles to feel safe.

Limited Process: We reason issues only within our ‘In-Group.’

Limited Connection: We dismiss or demean the ‘Out-Group.’

Separated into camps of the like minded, we strengthen polarization.

At the same time, we weaken our human qualities such as

Empathy and Critical Reflection.


In conflict, we are invited and challenged to create

a communication process that helps us to:


Perceive more accurately

Remember more completely ​

Communicate more effectively

In effective communication, in the midst of conflict

we are challenged to:


Risk and increase curiosity

Initiate and deepen connection

Be willing to open up to the Other

To reduce polarization, we need to do the inner work

to see the other as a complete human being.