Conflict is Good, with Ian Leslie

Heated, emotional arguments are often something we try to avoid. Ian Leslie tells us the avoidance of conflict is more dangerous that the confrontation itself - for couples and families just as for democracies.

S2 E17: Conflict is Good, with Ian Leslie

“The avoidance of conflict is actually the real problem”

We traditionally view argument as a symptom of a problematic relationship, but relationship psychologists have found that they actually lead to healthier and happier people. Children who grow up arguing with their parents do better in school, and couples who air their disagreements stay together longer.

What holds true for the family, holds true for all groups of people: conflict is central to Democracy. Humans evolved to reason collectively: we need each other to get to the truth.

“For valuable conflict to occur, you need two things: a shared goal, and agreed rules of engagement.”

Listen to Ian and Turi discuss:

  • Why arguments are good for us
  • Why most ‘conflict’ on social media isn’t ‘Fight’, so much as ‘Flight’
  • Why emotion is so important in conflict
  • How we can turn our cognitive flaws to society’s advantage
  • How humans evolved to reason collectively
  • Democracy as an ‘Infinite Game’
  • How we can have healthy arguments

“It doesn’t matter if you are right, it matters that WE, as a society, are right. Arguing is what gets us there.”

Works cited include:

Read the Full Transcript

Ian Leslie

Ian Leslie is a writer and author of acclaimed books on human behaviour. He writes about psychology, culture, technology and business for the New Statesman, the Economist, the Guardian and the Financial Times. He is the author of Conflicted.

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021 at 11:30 UTC