How Open Conflict Benefits Relationships Healthy conflict deepens relationships. Here's how to do it. Posted January 4, 2020 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

But what if I told you that if you're suppressing conflict, you're actually weakening your relationships? Research suggests that engaging in non-blaming open conflict can bring people closer and that people who engage in healthy conflict have greater well-being, are more popular, and have less depressionanxiety, and loneliness. And when people avoid conflict, they often choose to distance themselves instead, which may damage relationships.


Many of our fears around engaging in open conflict stem from our misconceptions about what conflict has to look like. We have a picture in our heads of arguments escalating, shouting, and flipped over tables—like a game of Monopoly gone awry. Some of us may have even worked up the courage to confront others, only to have our relationships destroyed, leading us to conclude that silencing ourselves is the best approach; but our issue is likely not that we brought up points of conflict, but how we did it.


To work through conflict to better our relationships, we need to know how to do it effectively.

1. Get Your Mind and Energy Right

First, if you're pulsing with rage, it's not the time to enter into conflict, as research finds that angry conflict is associated with relationship damage. You're going into this conversation calmly, seeing it as an opportunity to better your relationship. Your approach isn't adversarial—to put the other person in their place—but collaborative, to figure out ways to make the relationship better. Whatever is hurting you about the relationship is hurting the relationship because you are a participant in it. Having this mindset will help you feel validated (rather than selfish) in expressing your concerns.

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Fun Conversation Starter Questions for Your Thanksgiving Table

Worrying about the conversation at Thanksgiving dinner shouldn’t be such a burden, so we prepped both fun and funny conversation starters.

You might know it's important to stay away from controversial topics such as politics and sour memories at your holiday dinner table. But what do you do if you don't want to revert to retelling old family stories or asking boring and generic Thanksgiving questions?


In an ideal world, we'd have a list of clever and funny Thanksgiving conversation starters on deck. We'd be equipped to defuse any awkward family tensions or change the subject quickly yet affably if a potentially controversial topic arose; we might even learn something new about our friends or family members.


The following questions are perfect for Thanksgiving and will help prevent those dreaded silences. If you're hosting a Friendsgiving this year, the icebreakers will also help everyone warm up to each other, especially if you're bringing different groups of friends together. If all else fails, you can always ask if anyone wants more turkey.

Parents to Ask Kids of All Ages

  • Who is the funniest person at the table and why?
  • Pretend you just won $5 million. What's the first thing you would buy?
  • What do you think is the hardest thing about being a parent?
  • What are you most thankful for this year? (You knew it was coming.)
  • If you could redo yesterday, what would you do?
  • If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
  • If you could be famous for something, what would it be?

Kids to Ask Parents

  • If you could have named yourself, what name would you have picked?
  • What do you think is the hardest thing about being a kid?
  • What about me is the most (and least) like you?
  • If you could eat only one food on this table for an entire year, which one would it be?
  • If you were an animal, what would you be?
  • Would you rather not shower for a week or not brush your teeth for a week?

Friends to Ask Friends

  • Which person here do you wish you knew better?
  • Which person at this table would make the best news anchor?
  • If you had a uniform that you had to wear every day, what would it be?
  • What's your celebrity baby name?
  • Who would your Clue character be?
  • What's your favorite dad joke of all time?

Kids to Ask Grandparents or Other Older Relatives

  • How did you celebrate Thanksgiving when you were my age?
  • What was your favorite thing about where you grew up?
  • What about my mom/dad drove you crazy when she/he was a kid?
  • If you could live in any decade of your life again, which would it be?
  • If you had an extra hour every day, how would you spend it?
  • Which is your favorite month, and why?

Random Conversation Starters

  • What was your most bizarre holiday purchase?
  • What new—and unexpected—hobby have you started this year?
  • What is the next trip you're going to take?
  • If you could have Thanksgiving dinner with your favorite TV character, who would it be?
  • What was your funniest or most embarrassing moment?

If you want even more conversation starters, try weaving some Thanksgiving quotes into your chats with relatives or impress the table with your Thanksgiving knowledge.

Positive effects of social media on mental health

Social media is a complicated beast. It comes with its own set of pros and cons. And it can have positive effects on our well-being.

We looked to a recent Harvard study to find out the benefits of social media on mental health. 


  1. Strong social networks are associated with positive mental health. Social media allows people to connect, especially in a pandemic era where it became harder for humans to connect with one another. 
  2. Social media facilitates connections that overcome barriers. My friends and family live all over the country — and the world.

    I wouldn’t have been able to stay in touch with my brother in Spain if I didn’t have social media. Barriers to connection are eliminated (or reduced) with the use of social media. 
  3. Increased career opportunities. There are people who have built their entire careers on social media. But beyond having a social media platform be “your office,” social media has been incredible at helping people find jobs.

    In fact, 79% of job applicants used social media, like LinkedIn, in their job search. Social networking is incredibly powerful for job seekers.  

The negative effects of social media on mental health

4 ways to manage the negative effects of social media

If you’re struggling with your social media use, you’re not alone.

I’ve felt that need to unplug and detach from social media before many times. Some people I know even do a digital detox practice. It’s not impossible to manage those negative symptoms of social media use. 

“If I had to give one piece of advice it would be to be aware of when you feel unpleasant emotions. Be mindful of your emotions while or after using social media, and try to investigate the source of this feeling. We have normalized social media to the extent of not listening to our body and mind’s response when we make use of it. The more aware we are to what could be harming us, the clearer we will be able to see that something needs to be done about it.”

Alexia Roncero, BetterUp Fellow Coach 

Here are four ways you can help manage your social media use. 

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How social media affects the brain

We know that social media impacts the brain. Several studies have been conducted to examine how the brain reacts to social media.

One of the biggest ways social media affects the brain is through dopamine. 

Let’s take Instagram. Say you posted a photo from your weekend getaway with friends. Suddenly, “likes” start to trickle in. And with every like, your brain fires off dopamine. Dopamine is known as a feel-good chemical. It’s a neurotransmitter that boosts moodmotivation, and even attention

Our brains love dopamine. After all, it makes us feel good. This release of dopamine is a big reason why people keep using social media. 

According to Harvard researchers, this dopamine release can serve as a social reward. Our brain has four major dopamine receptors. Each of these receptors is like a little trail that is associated with different cognitive and motor functions. 

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Social media bringing you down By Madeline Miles

I delete a social media app every few weeks. 

Usually, it’s after a night of endless scrolling. I look at the time and realized I’ve just spent hours perusing other people’s lives, most I don’t even know. I realize that I need a break, so I remove the app from my phone. 

But without fail, after a few weeks of a social media cleanse, I re-download the app. It’s a tumultuous, conflicted relationship where I can’t quite pinpoint how I feel about it. 

Sometimes, social media makes me feel more connected, more informed. But other times, I feel overloaded and overwhelmed. 

Social media and mental health have crept into the conversation around wellness. It’s not as black-and-white as you may think. Learn how social media impacts mental health. We’ll share important social media and mental health stats to keep in mind. 

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How to know when it's time to let a friendship go

Learning the importance of friendship is a lesson that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Your self-worth will grow, and so will your well-being. Understanding that friendship is more than a fleeting connection helps us see the value in what our friends can do for us. They help our mental health, keep our physical health in line, and make life more enjoyable.

But sometimes, we must realize that some friendships aren't healthy

To finish off this lesson in friendship, here are five tips to know when it's time to let unhealthy friendships go and move on to meet new people:

  1. Your friend has overstepped the boundaries you've set
  2. They try to change or influence you to be someone you're not
  3. There's a lack of interest or effort put into the friendship 
  4. They lie and share your secrets behind your back
  5. They never apologize when they've hurt you or done something wrong

Finding objective support from someone outside of your circle of friends makes a world of difference. With BetterUp, a coach can provide the guidance you need to help you set your boundaries and make connections with people who will support you for the long haul.

5 tips to strengthen your friendships

Friendships change and evolve. In adulthood, people experience life at different paces — like being the only friend who isn't married or the only one with children.

Regardless of your differences and the potential obstacles to your relationships, here are five tips to consider to strengthen friendships:

  1. Be a good listener when your friends are talking —especially if you haven’t seen them in awhile
  2. Make an effort to keep a positive attitude
  3. Be consistent with your communication if there’s distance between you
  4. Open up and be vulnerable with your friends
  5. Show that you're reliable and trustworthy, even if you have a busy schedule — your friends deserve to be prioritized

3 common obstacles to making friends and how to overcome them

Finding common ground and sustaining friendships isn't easy. Life happens, and sometimes we grow busy or something holds us back from developing strong relationships.

Read through these three common obstacles to forming friendships, and if they pertain to you, pay extra attention to how you can overcome them:

1. If you always forget things

Write your engagements down somewhere where you'll see them easily if you forget about them. We all forget things, but you won't see any improvement in your social skills if you can't remember to take those leaps and get out to meet people. Use your physical or virtual calendar, sticky notes, or a message board in your house. 

2. If you have lots to do

If you have errands to run or things to do, call a friend and invite them along. You can go to the gym, go grocery shopping, and work from home together.

While you're at it, see if your friend has anything to check off on their to-do list that you share and can accomplish together. Spending time together can be easy.


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10 reasons why friendship is so important in life

By Madeline Miles

Why is friendship important?

Friendship is important because it helps us build connections with people who share our values or interests. Friends help us prevent loneliness or isolation and are supportive companions as we work toward living purposeful lives. They can also encourage us to pursue our passions and dreams and offer support or advice in hard times.

Our friendships help our mental health and overall happiness. We build human connections in our professional lives and personal lives. And over time, those connections may grow. We might make friends with people temporarily, depending on where we go to school or work. Some friendships last for life, though, regardless of where you meet these people.

They connect us to our core values at work, when facing challenges, or during our daily life. The emotional support we receive from our close friends helps inspire us when life feels dull and provides encouragement to overcome challenges. 

When we’re faced with uncertainty, our friends are there to provide the positive encouragement that we need to embrace new journeys or face tough times. Our good friends can also notice and let us know that we’re becoming consumed with work or another problem in our lives and need to take a break.

Our social support is right beside us throughout the different stages of our lives. Friends keep us grounded and help us remember what we value and want to achieve in life — even when things get tricky. True friends stand by us when we're adjusting to a new change. They remind us of our potential, relieve stress, recognize our comfort zones, and prevent us from feeling lonely.

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Dealing With the Difficult People in Your Workplace

If you've been working for a while, you've experienced workplaces in which all sorts of dysfunctional approaches to dealing with a difficult coworker have been tried. Putting an anonymous note in the person’s mailbox is not a viable option. 


Placing a can of deodorant on a hygiene-challenged coworker’s desk is not a productive option either. Confronting the bully publicly can often lead to disaster. Putting dead bugs in his or her desk drawer can leave your boss no option other than to fire you. So, consider several more productive ways to address your difficult coworker.

How to Productively Deal With Your Difficult Coworker

Are you convinced that in almost all cases you need to productively deal with your difficult coworker? Good. These are ten productive ways in which you can learn and deal with your difficult coworker.


Start out by examining yourself.

Are you sure that the other person is really the problem and that you're not overreacting? Have you always experienced difficulty with the same type of person or actions, for example?


Does a pattern exist for you in your interaction with coworkers? Do you recognize that you have hot buttons that are easily pushed? (All people do, you know.) Always start with self-examination to determine that the object of your attention really is a difficult person’s actions.

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How to Deal With Difficult People at Work - PART 1

Difficult people do exist at work. They come in every variety and no workplace is without them. How difficult a person is for you to deal with depends on your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your professional courage at work. Dealing with difficult people is either easy or challenging for you depending on the type of difficult person and the situation you face.


Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behavior affects more than one person. Dealing with them is much tougher when they are attacking you, stealthily criticizing you, gossiping about you, or undermining your professional contribution.


Difficult people come in every conceivable variety. Some talk constantly and never listen. Others must always have the last word. Some coworkers fail to keep commitments. Others criticize anything that they did not create. Difficult coworkers compete with you for power, privilege, and the spotlight; some go way too far in courting the boss’s positive opinion—to your detriment.


Some coworkers attempt to undermine you and you constantly feel as if you need to watch your back. Your boss plays favorites and the favored party lords it over you; people form cliques and leave you out; you are told that colleagues are speaking about you behind your back. Difficult people and situations, such as these, exist in every workplace.



They all have one thing in common. You must address them. No matter the type of difficult situation in which you find yourself, dealing with difficult people or situations is a must. Sure, you can experience a momentary distraction or ill-advised remark from a colleague without doing anything about it. Everyone has bad days and experiences thoughtless moments. But, if the behavior continues, or worse, escalates, you must address the behavior.

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How to Improve Your Relationships With Effective Communication Skills - PART TWO

Try to See Their Point of View

In a conflict, most of us primarily want to feel heard and understood. We talk a lot about our point of view to get the other person to see things our way. This is understandable, but too much of a focus on our own desire to be understood above all else can backfire. Ironically, if we all do this all the time, there’s little focus on the other person’s point of view, and nobody feels understood.

Try to really see the other side, and then you can better explain yours. (If you don't "get it," ask more questions until you do.) Others will more likely be willing to listen if they feel heard.

Respond to Criticism With Empathy

When someone comes at you with criticism, it’s easy to feel that they’re wrong and get defensive. While criticism is hard to hear and often exaggerated or colored by the other person’s emotions, it’s important to listen to the other person’s pain and respond with empathy for their feelings. Also, look for what’s true in what they’re saying; that can be valuable information for you.


Own What’s Yours

Personal responsibility is a strength, not a weakness. Effective communication involves admitting when you’re wrong. If you both share some responsibility in a conflict (which is usually the case), look for and admit to what’s yours. It diffuses the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity. It also often inspires the other person to respond in kind, leading you both closer to mutual understanding and a solution.

Use 'I' Messages

Rather than saying things like, "You really messed up here," begin statements with "I." Make your statements about yourself and your feelings, like, "I feel frustrated when this happens." This approach is less accusatory, sparks less defensiveness, and helps the other person understand your point of view rather than feeling attacked.6

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How to Improve Your Relationships With Effective Communication Skills - PART ONE

Conflict in a relationship is virtually inevitable. In itself, conflict isn’t a problem; how it’s handled, however, can bring people together or tear them apart. Poor communication skills, disagreements, and misunderstandings can be a source of anger and distance or a springboard to a stronger relationship and a happier future.


What Is Healthy Communication?

Healthy communication is the effective exchange of thoughts and feelings between people. It often involves people taking turns speaking and listening. Ideally, when you engage in healthy communication, the people involved are devoted to the exchange. Both people are aware of how they are acting during the conversation.


For instance, if you are the speaker, you might be making eye contact or using your body language to express that you are present and engaged. If you are the listener, you are open to hearing what the speaker is saying and not cutting them off from finishing a sentence or focusing your attention on what you're going to say next.1


The Importance of Healthy Communication

Healthy communication is crucial for sustaining long-term relationships. One study found that effective communication increased relationship satisfaction for couples.2 Healthy communication can increase intimacy in relationships as well.


The way you and your partner communicate with each other often determines how you resolve conflicts. If you use healthy methods of communicating, you are likely to find common ground even during a disagreement. This can help strengthen your relationship over time.

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The Benefits of Anxiety and Nervousness

We often hear about the negative aspects of anxiety, but could there be any advantages or benefits that come from living with anxiety? Anxiety is a feeling that is often characterized by intense fear, worry, and apprehension.


Many individuals with anxiety describe it as a feeling of nervousness and dread that can be distracting at best and all-consuming at worst. Anxiety is typically experienced on many levels, affecting one’s emotions, leading to uncomfortable physical sensations, and contributing to negative thoughts.


Positive Effects

These symptoms of anxiety are a common problem for people who have been diagnosed with any type of anxiety disorder, including panic disorder. However, have you ever considered some of the possible positive effects that may come with having anxiety?


Scientists have learned that some degree of stress or anxiety isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Good stress, something now referred to now as eustress, keeps us motivated and excited about life.1 It appears that some degree of anxiety may have similar "silver linings." Let's take a look at what they've been learning.

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How to Navigate Depression: 22 Things to Try Part 3


15. Volunteering can be a great way to do both

Knock out a few birds with one stone — spending time with other people and doing something new — by volunteering and giving your time to someone or something else.

You may be used to receiving help from friends, but reaching out and providing help may actually improve your mental health more.

Bonus: People who volunteer experience physical benefits, too. This includes a lowered riskTrusted Source of hypertension.

16. You can also use this as a way to practice gratitude

When you do something you love, or even when you find a new activity you enjoy, you may be able to boost your mental health more by taking time to be thankful for it.

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How to Navigate Depression: 22 Things to Try Part 2


6. Set attainable goals

A lengthy to-do list may be so weighty that you’d rather do nothing. Instead of compiling a long list of tasks, consider setting smaller goals. Setting and accomplishing these goals can provide a sense of control and accomplishment, and help with motivation.

Attainable goals can include:

  • Don’t clean the house; take the trash out.
  • Don’t do all the laundry that’s piled up; just sort the piles by color.
  • Don’t clear out your entire email inbox; just address any time-sensitive messages.

When you’ve done a small thing, set your eyes on another small thing, and then another. This way, you have a list of tangible achievements and not an untouched to-do list.

7. Reward your efforts

All goals are worthy of recognition, and all successes are worthy of celebration. When you achieve a goal, do your best to recognize it.

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How to Navigate Depression: 22 Things to Try

There are a number of steps you can take to manage, and navigate depression. Making small changes to your daily routine, diet, and lifestyle habits can all have a positive effect.

Depression can drain your energy, leaving you feeling empty and fatigued. This can make it difficult to muster the strength or desire to get treatment. Small lifestyle changes may help you manage these feelings.

Small steps, big impact

If a person feels sustained, intense, feelings of sadness or loss of interest in activities, they may have clinical depression. People also refer to this condition as major depressive disorder.

However, there are small steps you can take to help you gain more agency in your life and improve your sense of well-being.

Read on to learn how to incorporate these strategies in a way that makes sense for you.

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10 Rules for Surviving Life with a Narcissist PART 3


6. Refrain from rationalizing or justifying.

Because of the narcissist’s controlling nature, you can frequently feel required to offer an explanation for why you think, feel, and prioritize as you do. Narcissists may not actually say these words, but they imply: “If you think differently from me, you’d better have a good reason.”

Instead of catering to the narcissist’s overbearing nature, let’s build upon a simple thought: “Why defend that which needs no defense.” Just because a narcissist is offensive toward you does not mean you have to join the fruitless exchange by becoming defensive in reverse. Explain yourself once, then if it is clear the narcissist does not accept your explanation, move on. No further words will help your cause.

7. Make room psychologically for “jerk” behavior.

Think about the many times in your interactions with a narcissist you have thought: “This person is being such a jerk!” And you are probably correct! Narcissists can be impossibly boorish and condescending in their mannerisms with you. Their raw egotism and inflated entitlement makes them ridiculously difficult to reason with, and you know the trend will not end. It is hardwired into their DNA.

You can make matters worse when you say something to the effect: “I want you to examine yourself and stop being so absurd!” Not once will a narcissist say: “Good point.” Not once.

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