First, Do No Harm

Heidi Burgess
Guy M. Burgess

September, 2017

While one should stand up for ones' own beliefs, interests, and needs, people should still avoid doing things that unnecessarily hurt or anger the other side.

Like disrespect and coercion, harm cyles.  "What goes around comes around" is trite--but it is very true in conflict!  

Other things you can do to help.

How: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, promising to, at a minimum, “do no harm.” People who want to improve conflicts should do the same. They should avoid doing things that unnecessarily hurt or anger the other side. While they should stand up for their own beliefs, interests, and needs, they should try whenever possible to protect the other sides’ beliefs, interests, and needs as well.  That means one shouldn't  call people names, bait them, try to "one-up" them, or lash out at them.  Rather, follow what Americans call "the Golden Rule"--treat others the way you wish they would treat you.

Why: Like disrespect and coercion, harm cycles.  When people get hurt, they tend to lash back, often trying to hurt the attacker even more.  So making people more angry than necessary, hurting them more than necessary, or frightening them unnecessarily--ostensibly to protect oneself-- is actually more likely to harm you too.  A trite saying in the United States is “what goes around comes around.” In conflict this is often true: both for respect and antipathy.

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Question for You:

HD2: Do No Harm: How do we get people to change their approach to conflict when it is clearly being destructive?  Have you ever changed your approach yourself?  Have you convinced someone else to do so?  Tell us about it! (Answer below in an email and we will post your answer here!)