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How To Do Healthy Conflict: The Compassion Cycle

If you’ve been following my blog you’ve read about how conflict isn’t bad, it’s simply the energy produced by a gap between what we want and what we are experiencing. Drama is what happens when we misuse that energy to feel justified and set up win-lose interactions.

Compassion is the alternative, when we use that same energy to struggle with others in a spirit of dignity, to create something amazing.

How do we do that?

My last three posts covered the three compassion skills necessary for healthy conflict: Openness, Resourcefulness, and Persistence. It takes all three, working together, to do conflict without casualties.

Order Matters

The Compassion Cycle shows how to use the three Compassion Skills most effectively for healthy conflict.

1. Start at Open

Conflict is hard and scary, so people want to feel safe. The emotional transparency of Openness shows you don’t have negative intentions and are willing to get vulnerable yourself. Plus, how can anyone else struggle with you if they don’t know what you are struggling with?

2. Take the Next Step

Once the real feelings are shared, moving to Resourcefulness is where we problem-solve the gap. This is where we talk about what’s going on, and how we can each contribute to move things forward.

3. Keep Going

Next step, Persistence. This is where we identify what’s at stake and make commitments around what’s next. Maybe it’s a boundary that’s being threatened, maybe a goal you are trying to reach.

4. Return to Open

Conflict is hard and scary. Return to Open and check in, and see we are doing. This reaffirms that we are in this together.

The key is to use all four of these steps when you want to engage healthy conflict. Tune in next time for examples of how to use the Compassion Cycle in real-life situations.

Things to ponder

  • Healthy conflict requires you to get vulnerable in order to create a safe place. What’s your perspective?
  • What could happen if you tried to engage conflict without one of the three Compassion Skills?
How To Do Healthy Conflict: The Compassion Cycle

Nathan Regier

Nate Regier, PhD is CEO and Co-founding owner of Next Element, a global leadership communication firm specializing in building cultures of Compassionate Accountability®. A former practicing clinical psychologist, Dr. Regier splits his time between writing, speaking, training, consulting, and developing Next Element's global network of certified trainers. He is co-developer of the Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching system for positive conflict, and has authored two books on drama and conflict; Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires, and Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide For Leading With Compassionate Accountability. Nate is a certifying master trainer in the Process Communication Model®. He lives in Newton, KS, is married and has three daughters. Learn more about Conflict Without Casualties here.

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APA Reference
Regier, N. (2019). How To Do Healthy Conflict: The Compassion Cycle. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jan 2019
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