Conflict is good for us!

There was a time, not so long ago, when some people didn’t believe that babies could engage in social interactions. But science has shown us that babies are, in fact, ultra-sensitive to social cues around them, especially from their parents. In a classic experiment, the so-called “still face” experiment, we see that a mum not reacting, not smiling and not interacting is very upsetting for a baby.

This study was just part of a lifetime’s work by University of Massachusetts Professor Ed Tronick, one of 26 world-renowned scientists now featured in the Netflix series “Babies”, a series that shows us that babies know and understand so much more than many of us thought …

The Power of Discord

In his 2020 book The Power of Discord, co-authored with paediatrician Claudia Gold, PhD, Professor Tronick goes on to explain how conflict or disharmony is not only OK, but crucial for us all as we grow and develop and interact.

“A brilliant overview of our contemporary relational landscape that argues that what people – both children and adultsneed most is the messiness of real relationships, with their conflicts, partial resolutions, and imperfect efforts at repair…”

Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology

“Working through messiness in relationships is the key to connection, trust, and resilience.”

You might think that perfect harmony is the defining characteristic of healthy relationships, but the truth is that human interactions are complicated and confusing. According to psychologist Ed Tronick and pediatrician Claudia Gold, messiness is not only OK, it is crucial to our social and emotional development. In The Power of Discord, Tronick and Gold show how the everyday dance of crossed signals and missed intentions—followed by coming back together—is the secret path to better relationships.

Dr. Tronick’s classic “still-face experiment” was a stunning demonstration of how babies are profoundly affected by their parents’ emotions and behavior.  This seminal work, which has influenced relationship researchers like John Gottman and Sue Johnson, reveals that while our highly evolved sense of self makes us separate, our survival depends on connection. And so we approximate, iteratively learning about one another’s thoughts and motives, gaining confidence in the process as we repair mistakes and misunderstandings that arise. 

Drawing on Dr. Tronick’s research and Dr. Gold’s clinical experience, along with plenty of real-life examples, you’ll learn the secrets to forming deep, lasting, trusting relationships, developing resilience in times of stress and trauma, and nourishing a solid sense of yourself in the world. This is the key to unlocking better connections with romantic partners, family, friends, and colleagues alike. The Power of Discord is a refreshing and original exploration of our ability to relate to others and to ourselves.