OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Respectful Communication

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One simple way to communicate more effectively is to treat the person you are addressing respectfully--even if you do not, really, respect him or her. Exhibiting disrespect is almost never helpful, as it immediately places the listener in an adversarial, and probably hostile frame of mind, and encourages them to disregard or dispute anything that is said. This does not mean that you have to agree with everyone and hide any opposition you hold to their attitudes, beliefs, values, or positions. It simply means that you should state your differences in a way that does not belittle theirs. For instance, instead of saying "that is a really stupid way of looking at the situation," it is usually more helpful to say "well, I see the situation somewhat differently." Then you can go on to explain how you see it, without ever saying directly that they are "stupid" or even wrong, but simply that it is possible to see things in different ways.

What does this say about expressing anger? Anger should not be hidden, as it is important that your opponent understand that something they did or something that happened made you very angry. Yet you can explain that without lashing out and escalating the conflict further. By explaining, with "I messages," that "I am very angry because . . ." you can explain your feelings without being as likely to generate an anger-escalating response.

The level of anger and hostility which is considered appropriate to exhibit will vary, of course, from culture to culture. But when in doubt, treating opponents with respect and a relatively calm demeanor is likely to be helpful.

Links to related approaches

Active Listening

Cross-Cultural Communication Strategies

"I" Statements not "You" Statements

Communication Skills Improvement


Links to related problems

Escalation Problems

Personal Attacks

Strong Emotions

Inflammatory Statements

Failure to Understand an Opponent's Perspective

Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu