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Courage to Raise Conflict Outweighs Remaining Silent out of Fear

Video Overview

When was the last time you disagreed with something or someone?  Did you talk about your concern directly with them?  Likely, the fear of raising the conflict won and the issue remained hidden.  Margaret Heffernan (2012) discusses why having the courage to disagree and openly discuss conflict far outweighs the risks of remaining silent in this TED Talk.  Watch the video here:

One of Heffernan’s (2012) recommendations is to seek someone whose personality, point of view, or thinking style is drastically different.  By so doing, this partner can offer a different perspective or challenge your assumptions, allowing you to refine the project, research paper, argument, design, or other work.  This takes energy and patience, because dealing with conflict goes against the natural human tendency.  But, Heffernan argues that the end result is worth the investment, because diverse perspectives build a better outcome than like-mindedness.

One example Heffernan (2012) offers comes from Alice, who researched why a certain segment of children had higher rates of cancer.  She found that the reason was because the mother had an X-ray during pregnancy, and so Alice published her findings.  Yet, X-ray exams remained common for women during certain stages of pregnancy, and the cancer rate for children remained steady.  While Alice’s findings were available, it took considerable time and her challenging the thinking of the day to convince the medical community to change its practices in order to save lives.  She took courage to disagree with the status quo in order to have a positive impact.

Take Action

After watching the video, what problems will you solve or risks will you mitigate by voicing your opinions, worries, or ideas?


Heffernan, M. (2012).  Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree.  TED.  Retrieved August 24, 2012, from