Conflict Thesaurus


Invite productive conversations not destructive battles

Examples of productive and destructive approaches to interaction:

    “I don’t want to talk about it, you’re just going to overreact again.”
    “This is obviously important to both of us, let’s figure out a way to talk about it. What’s at the heart of the matter for you?”

what changed:

The DESTRUCTIVE version contains an evaluation of the other person’s character and an assumption that productive dialogue is impossible, with blame laid on the other person. No clear request or question is stated. No information is offered about what is needed or wanted.

The PRODUCTIVE version offers a clear request for useful common action and acknowledges and invites the viewpoints, emotions, and interests of both people into the conversation. No blame and no personal attack are offered. There is an assumption that useful dialogue is possible.


PRACTICE: Finding out what’s happening, not whose fault it is.

ASK YOURSELF: “What concrete changes could make useful dialogue possible?”

SEE: Principle 11 in Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution

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