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Doing Healthy Conflict: Tips For Success

If you’ve been following my blog you’ve read about how the Compassion Cycle and Formula for Compassionate Conflict gives us a way to engage conflict without casualties. You’ve read several real-life examples of ORPO in action. I’d love to hear your experience using ORPO. Will you share in the comments?

ORPO is a powerful tool. Starting healthy conflict with someone can be scary, even threatening for some people. It avoids drama, so it doesn’t allow people to feel justified. It engages both people in taking responsibility for themselves, so that can be a challenge as well. Here are a few tips to increase your success with ORPO.

Tip #1: Start at Open

ORPO falls apart if you don’t start at open. Starting anywhere else doesn’t create the safety necessary for healthy conflict. Starting at Resourcefulness with information and questions can easily invite someone to question your motivations or start trying to offer solutions when they don’t really understand what’s going on. Starting at Persistent invites defensiveness because hitting someone with a boundary right off the bat feels pretty harsh.

Tip 2: Go all the way through before stopping

ORPO is designed to be done all in one statement. Don’t stop and wait for a person’s response in between. Each part of ORPO needs the others in order to have the full effect.

Tip 3: Success takes time and practice

About one fourth of people will respond positively to the first ORPO you do. Most won’t because they have no idea what you are doing. They will be surprised, confused, anxious, maybe even angry. That’s OK. They have no reason to trust your intentions on the first time. Be persistent and stick to the cycle. One time it took me about 30 times around to achieve a breakthrough with an angry customer.

Tip 4: It’s not about them

ORPO is not about changing the other person. It’s about taking full responsibility for your feelings and actions and changing the rules of the game for you. The reason it’s so effective, though, is that it gives others new ways to engage with you, alternatives to drama that still build relationships and connection instead.

Things to Ponder

  • If you have tried ORPO, have you followed these tips? If not, which ones?
  • Compassionate conflict isn’t easy, but it is extremely rewarding. What have you experienced?
  • If you are having trouble coming up with good ORPOs, review the three Compassion Skills and strategies to expand your repertoire. Start with Openness.
Doing Healthy Conflict: Tips For Success

Nathan Regier

Nate Regier, PhD is CEO and Co-founding owner of Next Element, a global leadership communication firm specializing in building cultures of Compassionate Accountability®. A former practicing clinical psychologist, Dr. Regier splits his time between writing, speaking, training, consulting, and developing Next Element's global network of certified trainers. He is co-developer of the Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching system for positive conflict, and has authored two books on drama and conflict; Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires, and Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide For Leading With Compassionate Accountability. Nate is a certifying master trainer in the Process Communication Model®. He lives in Newton, KS, is married and has three daughters. Learn more about Conflict Without Casualties here.

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APA Reference
Regier, N. (2019). Doing Healthy Conflict: Tips For Success. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jan 2019
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