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Creative Responses to Conflict

Updated: May 19, 2020

Turning Problems in Possibilities.

The Creative response to conflict is seeing problems as possibilities. Deciding to see what can be done, rather than how terrible it all is, choosing to extract the best from the situation. See how your attitudes color your thoughts. For example, “Judgment” versus “Discovery”. Let’s call them attitude “seats”. Which “seat” do you sit in each day? Do you see difficulties as problems or possibilities? Judgment Mode: Challenges are Problems

The Judgment seat is critical, and asks suffocating questions like:

“Is this good enough or not?” (Usually not …)

“Does this meet my (unreasonably) high standards?” 

What's in your mind when you're in Judgment mode?

  • Right or Wrong

  • Mistakes are Unacceptable.

  • Judgement

  • Failure

  • I have to be right.

  • Blame

  • Dissatisfaction

  • Low Self-Esteem

The process of Judgment invites a “Winners Versus Losers” mindset. This mentality, and the endless pursuit of perfection, and results in constant stress, strained relationships, and chronic dissatisfaction. Discovery Mode: Challenges are Possibilities

The Discovery seat is curious, it asks invigorating questions like:

“How fascinating! What are the possibilities here?”

When you were a young child  and learning to walk you didn’t go “right foot”, “wrong foot”, and each fall was as interesting as the next step. To the young child, everything is part of the great experiment, including the tumble.   Here's what's brewing in your brain when you're in Discovery mode?

  • Curiosity

  • Enthusiasm

  • Possibilities

  • Acceptance

  • Play

  • Creativity

  • Innovation

  • High self-esteem

The process of Discovery invites a “Winners and Learners” mindset. If there are no losers, only learners, everyone's self-esteem gets a big boost. In the Discovery seat, problems look like intriguing puzzles.

“What will make the difference so that he stops complaining to me all the time?”

“What else can I try to get the kids to help with washing up?”

“What are we freed up to do now that our $7 million order has just been cancelled?”

“The photocopy machine has broken down again, how fascinating!” The process of Discovery invites, “Another Challenge? How Interesting!"

A not-so-famous but should-be maxim: “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing ….. !” This is an invitation to experiment and risk. Life is not about winning and losing – it’s about learning. When you fall down, you get back up, note where the pot-hole was, and walk around it the next time. Because the reality is, there are no “winners and losers”, just “winners and learners”.



We didn’t make this stuff up. The skills in this article are based on over 30 years of experience in conflict resolution and psychology. The Conflict Resolution Network (CRN) is a resource center that offers high-quality free and low-cost training materials for educational programs that move people and systems away from adversarial approaches towards cooperation and sustainable solutions. For more information and access to their absolutely incredible (and extraordinarily accessible) resources, we recommend you visit

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