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Conflict Tipping Podcast 33: Amanda Ripley’s “High Conflict,” with Ankur Delight

Join special guest Ankur Delight and Laura May as we review Amanda Ripley’s book, “High Conflict.”

Book blurb:

New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley investigates how good people get captured by high conflict—and how they break free.

Our journey begins in California, where a world-renowned conflict expert struggles to extract himself from a political feud. Then we meet a Chicago gang leader who dedicates his life to a vendetta—only to find himself working beside the man who killed his childhood idol. Next, we travel to Colombia, to find out whether thousands of people can be nudged out of high conflict at scale. Finally, we return to America to see what happens when a group of liberal Manhattan Jews and conservative Michigan corrections officers choose to stay in each other’s homes in order to understand one another better.

All these people, in dramatically different situations, were drawn into high conflict by similar forces, including conflict entrepreneurs, humiliation, and false binaries. But ultimately, all of them found ways to transform high conflict into something good, something that made them better people. They rehumanized and recatego­rized their opponents, and they revived curiosity and wonder, even as they continued to fight for what they knew was right.

People do escape high conflict. Individuals—even entire communities—can short-circuit the feedback loops of outrage and blame, if they want to. This is a mind-opening new way to think about conflict that will transform how we move through the world.

Books, authors, and episodes mentioned

Ank’s LinkedIn

And website

00:00:00 Introduction
00:01:25 The Book
00:03:06 The Concept of High Conflict
00:06:38 Gary Friedman’s story
00:13:49 Curtis’ Journey
00:15:37 The Challenge of Escaping Conflict
00:19:21 Complexifying Identities to Address Conflict
00:22:16 Sandra’s Story
00:24:12 A fruity segue
00:25:18 Sandra’s Journey to Freedom
00:27:09 Breaking Down Stereotypes
00:29:15 The Power of Storytelling
00:35:25 Key Takeaways
00:44:54 Final Thoughts


Laura May, PhD

Laura is a freelancer, former Executive Director of the International Mediation Institute and a negotiation and mediation lecturer.  Her doctoral research asked “in what ways does blame make villains in politics” and covered the gamut from literature studies and linguistics to psychology and neuroscience, victimology to political science.  Her expertise includes emotions,… MORE

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