Sidewalk Talk

High Conflict (and how we get out) with Amanda Ripley

October 25, 2022

Amanda Ripley is a New York Times bestselling author, an investigative journalist, and the co-founder of Good Conflict, LLC. She writes for the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and Politico, and she spent a decade writing about human behavior for Time magazine in New York, Washington, and Paris.

Listen in as Amanda and Traci explore what High Conflict is (and how we get out) drawing on research, insights, and experience across astronauts on space missions (yes, really!), the Israeli-Palestine conflict, intimate relationships across political divides, gang warfare, and racism.


Episode Timeline

  • [00:09] Intro 
  • [0:58] Meet Amanda
  • [3:44] Amanda’s journey to becoming a writer - and how she’s not like Stephen King
  • [8:14] Journalism, Conflict Entrepreneurship, and our need to matter
  • [10:17] Gossip: the art of creating intimacy through a common enemy
  • [11:46] Conflict in space missions (NASA studies with astronauts)
  • [15:09] “Us versus them” and dehumanization
  • [15:50] Curtis Toller’s story of gang rivalry… and redemption
  • [19:38] The paradox of internal and external conflict
  • [22:00] The “exhausted majority” who want less toxicity in politics
  • [23:40] Sidewalk Talk’s Wish you knew Me project, designed for couples who have conflict around politics or vaccines
  • [27:12] Bringing Black and white communities together in the wake of George Floyd’s murder
  • [29:20] The impact of positional power on the need to be heard 
  • [31:38] The art of political speech
  • [33:35] Social media and automatic responses
  • [39:32] Friendship, stereotyping, and how a lack of listening shuts down conversations
  • [41:35] Learning to dialogue differently around issues of righteous callout… like racism, vaccines, mask-wearing.
  • [45.09] Amanda’s message to the Sidewalk Talk volunteers
  • [47:14] Closing
  • [48:01] Outro

Resources Mentioned

High Conflict: Why we get trapped, and how we get out (Amanda’s book)


Standout Quotes

  • “you'll never get out of external conflict until you work on the internal conflict” (Amanda)
  • “I feel like that's why we're in this situation. We'd rather just continue othering.” (Traci)
  • “Meanwhile there's this “exhausted majority”... who really want major social change and they want less toxicity in the conflict. So both at once they don't necessarily want moderation or centrism, but they want less toxicity, less dehumanization.” (Amanda)
  • “There’s something like 40 million Americans who stopped speaking to someone in their lives over the 2016 election.” (Traci)
  • “So we're not marrying, dating, or living next to or working with people of other political persuasions is a big problem.” (Traci)
  • “yes, you shouldn't let people get away with saying racist things. And what do you say in response? Like, where is the skill, the craft, the learning, the education, the nuance of sophistication emotional, intellectual around what you say, how you respond to that?” (Amanda)
  • “We could make lasting change that really solves racism in America or dehumanization of any kind by developing the capacity to dialogue differently.” (Traci)
  • “When you really listen to someone, even if you disagree, there is something that opens up. There's an opening that happens in your mind and in your heart. And most people who experience that kind of opening across a big difference want more of it. It's almost like a drug, like a very good drug.” (Amanda)



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Find | Traci Ruble


On Instagram: @TraciRubleMFT

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Find | Amanda Ripley


On Twitter: @AmandaRipley



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