Two Opponents, One Flag with Deidre Combs

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Are there people in your life who make you crazy? Do you sometimes walk out of a difficult encounter reeling, wondering what happened? How do you act with compassion when dealing with someone who really can hurt you? We've all been told our worst enemies can be our greatest teachers. But if you find it difficult to recite your multiplication tables through clenched teeth, Deidre Combs can help. She explains how to recognize the larger lessons available to both parties in a conflict, and unearth the real fears and failings hiding behind the anger and harsh words. That doesn't mean you ignore the risks. Rather, she advises, enter the conflict knowing, "This is an opponent that can hurt me, but can also teach me how to become better. I might learn some new moves. I might learn information I didn't have before. I'll see the capabilities I have that I didn't know were in there." The result is a practical approach that will allow you to step into the fray with respect for your opponent, while still protecting yourself from harm. With practice you'll be able to see how both of you are members of the same community, fighting the same battle. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Dr. Deidre Combs, is a licensed mediator and corporate consultant. She’s a core instructor in Montana State University’s Leadership Fellows Certificate Program. Since 2007, she has taught intensive leadership training to State Department-selected student and professional leaders from throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and Pakistan’s FATA region.

Her books include:

To learn more about the work of Deidre Combs go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How your opponents can fuel your creativity
  • When being rude can be a valuable skill
  • How you can use the principles of martial arts to stand in the midst of conflict
  • How your code of conduct can become your shield
  • Why you should look for sparring partners
  • How your sleeping habits may determine the outcome of your next conflict
Host: Justine Willis Toms      Interview Date: 9/30/2005      Program Number: 3111