EP: 032



Whether a conflict involves international powers, corporate leadership, or a husband and wife, a violation of dignity is always the underlying cause. No matter the situation, we are all looking to be treated as if we have worth and value, and it is this fundamental desire for dignity that makes us human. How can a better understanding of the principles of dignity help us improve our relationships and address conflicts in a way that doesn’t perpetuate a destructive dynamic?

Donna Hicks has 20-plus years of experience as a facilitator in international conflicts in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Cuba, Northern Ireland and the US. Her understanding of dignity and the role it plays in resolving conflict has transformed work environments for prominent companies, nonprofits and government agencies, and Donna’s impressive client roster includes the World Bank, the United Nations, the US Navy and the Senate of Colombia. She was a featured speaker at TEDx Stormont in 2013 and co-host of Facing the Truth for the BBC with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2006. Donna is the author of the bestseller Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict, and she has been invited to discuss the topic on prominent media outlets including the BBC, Fox News and NPR.

Today, Donna sits down with Katherine to explain how her work with international conflict resolution translates to families. She discusses the universal desire to be treated as if we matter as the one aspiration that unites us all. Donna speaks to the concept of dignity within the context of marriage, describing how self-preservation instincts make it difficult to give our partners the benefit of the doubt and apologize for dignity violations. Listen in for insight around the technique of ‘getting up on the balcony’ to reflect on your behavior and pausing for 90 seconds before responding to a dignity violation.


How Donna’s work with international conflict translates to families

The universal desire to be treated as someone with value, worth

How a dignity violation is the underlying cause of every conflict

Donna’s insight around dignity as the aspiration that unites us all

The concept of dignity in the framework of marriage

How external pressures undermine our sense of dignity for our partners

The idea of attribution error in the context of marriage

The benefit of the doubt as an essential element of honoring dignity

How the desire to get even is prompted by self-preservation instinct

The technique of ‘getting up on the balcony’ to reflect on your behavior

How the brain responds to dignity violations the same as physical harm

The value in pausing for 90 seconds before responding to a violation

The challenge of apologizing in spite of the instinct to eliminate a threat

How to provide feedback about how you were hurt without returning harm


Donna’s Website

Declare Dignity


Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict by Donna Hicks

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Facing the Truth

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor


The Center for Understanding Conflict

Miller Law Group

Katherine on LinkedIn

The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller

Email katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

Call (914) 738-7765