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When to Know if Conflict Is Toxic

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By Doug Noll

Unless you are living in an isolated cave, social conflict is inevitable. Our needs, interests, and desires collide with each other, getting in the way of our happiness. Conflict is not inherently bad, however. We need conflict to teach us, entertain us, and help us grow. We can probably do without Jerry Springer’s craziness, but a certain amount of conflict is healthy. On the other hand, we have also experience unhealthy conflict. When the conflict becomes chronic and repetitive, it is toxic.

Worse, emerging research shows that toxic conflict kills just as surely as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Recent studies reveal that frequent arguments with partners, relatives, friends or neighbors are associated with a doubling to tripling in the risk of death from any cause. We are social beings and toxic conflict apparently creates stressors that shorten our lives.

Knowing the difference between healthy, good conflict and unhealthy, toxic conflict is important information.

Here are some signs that indicate toxic conflict: Continue reading

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