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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Jun 28, 2018

If we’re involved in any organization, be it our growing farm or a community board—we likely have experienced the tug-of-war when people struggle against each other or with themselves to get what they want, causing relationships and entire systems to unravel.  Today we’re going to dig into how we can better deal with the conflict that is bound to occur, and how we can provide leadership in real-time.

Nate Regier, Ph.D., is CEO and co-founding owner of Next Element (, a global leadership training and certification firm specializing in communication and conflict skills. He’s an expert in social-emotional intelligence and leadership, positive conflict, neuropsychology, group dynamics, interpersonal and leadership communication, executive assessment, and coaching. Regier is a co-developer of Next Element’s Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching system, an LOD® master trainer, and Process Communication Model® certifying master trainer. He is co-author of Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires. He’s an enthusiastic dad and husband. 

Conflict Without Casualties: A field Guide for Leading with Compassionate Accountability. Nate Regier, Ph.D.. 2017. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires. Nathan Regier & Jeff King. 2014. Next Element Publishing.

Conflict is the gap between what I want and what I’m experiencing at any point in time. Conflict is pure energy, neither inherently “good” or “bad.” The negative connotations we associate with conflict come from where and how we expend that energy.

Why do we try so hard to avoid conflict?
1. Conflict is emotional and commonly manifests itself physiologically—perspiration, increased heart rate, anxiety. Most people would rather not feel this discomfort.
2. We might have seen that energy misused for self-justification in the past—blaming, victimization, etc. Conflict is associated with negative experiences.

Two myths of conflict:
1. Conflict always ends up hurting someone/conflict creates casualties
2. Conflict is dangerous and must be controlled or managed

Conflict is emotional, and it can be passionate. However, when you project your emotions onto others or let drama affect the energy negatively, the process becomes non-productive: “You made me do this!” “Why doesn’t anyone ever listen to me?”

Use compassionate accountability to manage conflict.
Compassion without accountability gets you nowhere; accountability without compassion gets you alienated.

Human beings are worthwhile, capable and accountable. In all interactions, hold these three things to be equally true.

Three core competencies are required for compassionate accountability and healthy conflict:
1. Openness 2. Resourcefulness 3. Persistence
These qualities—which comprise the “Compassion Cycle”—permeate every aspect of the human experience on both macro and micro scales, from a very basic cellular level to an individual’s feelings, thoughts and actions—to the rise and fall of entire civilizations.

A leader solves problems without causing new ones. Always be moving forward. If you’re in the “Drama Triangle” (Victim - Persecutor - Rescuer), get off it by moving to step one of the Compassion Cycle—”Open.” (Cycle moves from Open to Resourceful to Persistent, and then back again to Open...and so on, in that order)

If you do one thing differently going forward today, start at “Open.” Tell people how you’re feeling and what you want. It’s life-changing. Do this one thing.