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ORPO: The Formula for Compassionate Conflict

Yes, conflict can be done without casualties! The key is to follow the Compassion Cycle, described in my most recent post. The secret is to apply the formula ORPO: Open, Resourceful, Persistent, Open.

Where could you use ORPO?

Your parents might judge me for my tattoos

Let’s say your boyfriend wants to introduce you to his parents and they’ve invited you over for dinner. You have several visible tattoos and are nervous about how they will react. This is conflict because there’s a gap between what you want (to be accepted for who you are), and what you are experiencing (uncertainty about being judged). Let’s apply ORPO.

O: I’m anxious about dinner with your parents. I’m worried about being judged.

R: Will you help me come up with a plan for how we will handle it if they ask?

P: It’s important to me that I have your support.

O: How do you feel about that?

I don’t want your help right now!

Let’s say someone at work sees you struggling with a project and tries to rescue you by offering unsolicited advice. That’s conflict because there’s a gap between what you want (demonstrate your own competence), and what you are experiencing (someone else trying to solve it for you). Try ORPO!

O: I am feeling defensive right now.

R: I know you have great ideas and I want to try to figure this out myself first.

P: I am still committed to meeting my deadline. Can I count on you to be available if I need help later on?

O: How does that sit with you?

ORPO can be used in any situation where there’s conflict and you want to address it head-on in a compassionate way. Tune in next time for more examples!

Things to ponder

  • Could you see yourself using ORPO to address a conflict in your life? Why or why not?
  • What could be different if you used ORPO instead of drama to deal with conflict?
ORPO: The Formula for Compassionate Conflict

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). ORPO: The Formula for Compassionate Conflict. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jan 2019
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