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Defining Conflict In A Positive Way

Brief Description/Purpose

To examine how our definitions and thoughts about conflict tend to be negative, and how to think more positively about conflict. Also to illustrate that defining conflict is not always easy.


Small groups of about 7 people but its flexible if you alter the process.

Age Appropriate

Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size

Twenty or more, again flexible.

Time For Exercise

20-40 minutes


Conflict management and resolution

Detailed Instructions If Needed

Split large groups into smaller teams of four to seven (having at least three teams is desirable). Have each team send a member up to collect their supplies, which consist of a sheet of flip-chart paper, some assorted markers, pens, and the handout. The handout would be a form to record answers to several questions.

Tell the teams that they are to write their definition of conflict. Their challenge is to define conflict without using negative terms. Once team members agree on a definition, have them write it on their flip-chart paper along with an illustration.

Before the group presentations and discussion, have each team answer the debriefing questions on the handout. After all teams are finished, have the teams present their ideas to the group. Hang up the flip-chart pages on the wall of the room for the duration of the training day.

  1. How does the definition of conflict affect the way we think about conflict?
  2. What are some negative consequences of conflict?
  3. What are some positive outcomes of conflict?
  4. List four potential positive outcomes of conflict in an organization.
  5. What role can each person play in increasing the positives and reducing the negatives of conflict?


This is a very flexible exercise in terms of time, and group size. You can do it in the entire group two.