Kim Loh is a conflict resolution and negotiation specialist, leadership coach, and co-author of the book Compassionate Conversations: How to Speak and Listen from the Heart. Her book is viewed as the definitive guide to learning effective strategies for engaging in open and honest conversations about divisive issues. Previously, she worked in peacebuilding and mediation research for the United Nations, as well as writing and advocacy for international NGOs and academic institutions. A lawyer by profession, she is an expert in international arbitration and litigation. Her work today centers on serving conscious leaders to up-level their human relationships and harness the true power of their teams. She joins Marcel Schwantes to discuss what drives conflict and share strategies for peaceful resolution.
Marcel asks Kim to unpack the term “difference equals threat.” Humans are surrounded by similarities and differences, and are constantly balancing between the two, Kim explains. “If, through our own limitations, we cannot accommodate what’s happening [around us], we are likely to perceive it as a threat, which activates the flight or fight response,” she comments. [6:25]
Kim shares tips for peaceful conflict resolution and reduction. The first thing you need to do when faced with conflict is to be aware of your role in it. You must take responsibility for yourself and your actions before analyzing the external factors of the conflict that need to change. [10:34]
“All conversations about differences should begin and end with what we have in common,” Kim advises. She briefly describes strategies for eliminating division in conversation. [14:12]
‘Talking straight’ is less about being blunt and more about having the courage to speak from the heart in goodwill and with good intentions, Marcel says. Kim believes that we are plagued by the things we don’t know how to say. When we listen well and talk straight, we create the freedom to be more truthful in conversation. [18:24]
Though society as a whole is cognitively focused, our hearts are what will allow us to make sense of and peace with things that our minds cannot, Kim remarks. [20:34]
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Compassionate Conversations: How to Speak and Listen from the Heart