Find Mediators Near You:

The Courage to Listen in Conflicts

Conflict Remedy Blog by Lorraine Segal

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”—Winston Churchill

What does it take to sit down and listen to someone we disagree with, instead of dismissing them as the enemy or turning to violence?

First we must accept that they are full and imperfect human beings, just as we are, not cardboard characters in our own personal or professional drama.

Second, we must understand that good people can hold different beliefs and opinions. We may find their views wrong or event abhorrent, but must not equate that with believing they are themselves evil.

We must also understand that listening isn’t the same as agreeing. We can listen to the perspective, history, and motivations of others without abandoning our own beliefs. We can embrace their humanity and acknowledge what we have in common even when we disagree.

Instead of demonizing them as the enemy, we must find a way to open our hearts and spirits to a bigger reality holding multiple truths. This can be a frightening concept to those who find safety in holding fast to narrow certainties.

My work as a communication coach and mediator is always to offer support and gentle awareness that strengthens clients’ compassion for themselves and others. With willingness and practice, we can all find peaceful, creative ways to work through conflicts and honor our differences.


Lorraine Segal

After surviving the 50's and 60's, as well as twenty years in toxic academia as a tenured professor, Lorraine Segal was inspired to started her own business, Conflict Remedy (, happily teaching, coaching, blogging and consulting around workplace conflict transformation. She is addicted to reading novels and enjoys walking and… MORE >

Featured Members

View all

Read these next


Student Mediation: Opportunity and Challenge

This article was orginally published by School Safety, Winter 1996.Most adults have been taught either by example or by instruction that confrontation or avoidance are effective ways to resolve conflicts.When...

By Nancy Kaplan

A Tale of Two Boxes: Re-Visioning the Nature of Conflict

“Nature has a three-track mind: it seeks to grow/mature, heal/cleanse and increase diversity/complexity for the greater health of the system.” This quote from the card entitled “What is this Medicine”...

By Stuart Watson

Fretboard Logic: Learning From The Guitar How To Value Your Case

The Problem: You think that your client’s pain is so severe and different than the typical client that you value the case substantially higher than the other side will pay....

By Jeffrey Krivis