Conflict Resolution Exercise

An improvisational game for learning how to resolve conflict situations.
Practice by playing real-life scenarios close to the work environment.
You learn different styles of entering into and exiting out of conflict situations and you become aware of your intuitive style.


For Team

Better Team Climate

3-9 People

30-60 min


  • Team members don’t express their opinion
  • Team members avoid conflicts
  • Conflicts in the team stay unresolved for long
  • Team members insist on their own point of view
  • The team climate can be described as artificial harmony or interpersonal attacks


  • Team members will be able to recognize different conflict styles during conflicts
  • The team will focus on win-win solutions during team debates
  • Every team member will get feedback from the rest of the team on their typical conflict resolution style
  • Every team member will be able to consciously adapt their behavior during conflicts


Choose two people and a scenario to play
The scenario context is read to everyone
The two players choose a character and read the private information on their own
The audience (the rest of the team) gets familiar with the Conflict Resolution Styles model
The two players try to resolve the situation by improvising. The audience observe by using the model
After the situations is played out, the audience discusses which player had what style
The two players read out loud their private information and share their thoughts on the play
Switch roles: the players become part of the audience and other two people become players

… And so on, take turns until everyone has played

The pill starts here {
Team Leader (Ivan) and Team Leader from a partner-company (Jennifer) are on a work lunch in London to discuss the development of the first project between the two companies. The project due date is soon and cannot be changed. Jennifer gives feedback to Ivan on how the team is performing.

You are Jennifer:

  • You are not happy with the last version of the product. The requirements are not understood again and again.
  • You are overwhelmed with work and you don’t have the time to read your e-mails.
  • You consider whether to recommend to stop working with Ivan’s company regardless of the fact that the project is very important to you.

You are Ivan:

  • You know the project is strategically important for your company.
  • The team is unhappy to constantly change the work due to requirement change from the partner.
  • You are annoyed that Jennifer is not responding quickly to your e-mails, although the project is important for them.
Team Leader (James) and his direct supervisor (Tom) are on a 1-on-1 meeting. Tom gives feedback to James that James’ team is not performing well, because they are not able to meet the project’s deadline.

You are Tom:

  • You work with James for the 3rd project in a row and you are in a good relationship.
  • You have promised your partners that the project will be delivered on the agreed due date.
  • You think the project estimation is correct in terms of budget and resources.
    You are angry that the team is not performing.

You are James:

  • You work with Tom for the 3rd project in a row and you are in a good relationship.
  • You think the project estimation is unrealistic in terms of the number of people and their capabilities.
  • You are angry that you don’t receive Tom’s support.
A designer (Emanuel) has just received negative feedback from a Quality Engineer (Linda) regarding the product look, which is a result of the design team’s work. Emanuel and Linda meet to discuss the comments.

You are Linda:

  • You and Emanuel are in a good relationship and have been colleagues for the past 3 years.
  • You have personally checked Emanuel’s team design and have written down all the things that should be corrected or you don’t like.
  • You think you will miss the deadline with all those issues.

You are Emanuel:

  • You and Linda are in a good relationship and have been colleagues for the past 3 years.
  • You are annoyed when a non-designer comments whether something is beautiful or not.
  • Half of the comments are related to whether something is beautiful or not.
At a parking lot in a business building, a man (Oliver) is just about to park his car and sees another car in the spot where he intended to park. A man gets out of this car (Jake).

You are Oliver:

  • You don’t know the other man.
  • You work at the business building and you are about to go to work.
  • You have used this parking spot for the past 3 years and it is reserved for you from your company.
  • The same situation happens to you for a second day in a row.

You are Jake:

  • You don’t know the other man.
  • You have a business meeting in the building (for about 2 hours).
  • You have been looking for a parking spot around the building for the past 15 minutes.
  • You are late for the meeting and park at the first available spot.
Dev (Mary) tells Dev (Bob) that there is a problem in his work. All the requirements are described in the specification document. Two weeks ago, at a meeting, changes have been made for some of the requirements, including what Bob has been working on. Mary has sent an e-mail with the changes. The specification document has not been updated. Bob has developed the business logic based on the old requirements.

You are Bob:

  • You strictly follow the established processes. A team rule is to follow & update the specification document.
  • You did not attend the meeting.
  • You are overwhelmed with work and rarely look at your e-mail.
  • You are annoyed that someone blames you for something you don’t know.

You are Mary:

  • You are annoyed that people don’t read their e-mails. It is for this purpose – to be read!
  • You are annoyed that this defect could have not existed at all.
  • You have not updated the specification document because the deadline is soon and to make things faster you have sent an e-mail.
Team Leader (Megan) gives feedback to a member of her team (Vicky) on the way she is solving problems.

You are Megan:

  • You are in a very good relationship with Vicky. She has been part of your team for 2 years since she arrived in the company, and she has a lot of potentials.
  • You are annoyed that for every problem Vicky implements fully the first thing that comes to her mind and then you have to rework it. 
  • You expect her to propose different options on a conceptual level.

You are Vicky:

  • You respect Megan a lot – she is your team leader since you arrived and has helped you a lot for your development.
  • You are annoyed that you solve problems completely and on your own, but then some of your work goes to waste.
  • You try to solve whatever problems you have on your own and not bother anyone else.
Team Leader (George) and a Technical Guru (Michael) discuss how the project has been technically implemented 1 week before the release. Michael comments in front of the whole team that he is not satisfied with the quality of most functionalities.

You are Michael:

  • You trusted the team that they will deliver the project on their own and you are surprised by the result.
  • You expect people to ask you directly if they have problems or questions.
  • You are annoyed that as a Technical Guru everyone else’s work comes to you, always at the last moment and only you stay during the nights to fix things.
  • You are annoyed that all the guilt falls on you and nobody else takes the responsibility.

You are George:

  • You expect Michael to give the team timely feedback if something is not done properly.
  • Every time someone from the team is looking Michael for help, he is always busy.
  • You are annoyed that team decisions are commented in the last minute.
  • You are annoyed that Michael expects the team to take responsibility for something that has not been clear from the beginning.
Team Leader (Alex) and a Customer (Emma) are discussing the project, planned to be released in a few weeks. Emma wants to change the plan without changing the deadline date.

You are Alex:

  • The customer which Emma represents is key for your company and this is one of many projects you have done together.
  • You are annoyed that when working with Emma there are always changes at the last moment.
  • You are not sure whether you will be able to deliver the changes within the deadline as you have already committed to other projects.

You are Emma:

  • You are happy working with Alex and his team.
  • Due to a shift in business priorities, you want to change some of the planned functionalities.
  • You expect Alex’s team to directly accept the changes as they have done so in the past and have always delivered on time.
Team Leader (Chris) takes aside a Dev from another team (Tony) to tell him that people from his team cannot always help him.

You are Tony:

  • You often ask colleagues from Chris’ team for help, because they have the experience for the things you do.
  • Until now nobody from Chris’ team has refused to help you, on the contrary – they have always responded quickly.
  • You insist on having open communication and think that you should not ask for permission to ask a colleague for help.

You are Chris:

  • You are annoyed that Tony constantly asks the people in your team to help him with his work.
  • You have told Tony numerous times that this communication should go through you so that you could plan appropriately. 
  • You are annoyed by your people that keep agreeing to help Tony, forgetting their own work.
Maria tells her boyfriend (John) what she wants them to do in their spare time on a Saturday afternoon.

You are Maria:

  • You want the house to be cleaned up thoroughly as it has not been done for a while and this is the first free afternoon in a month.
  • You are annoyed that you have to constantly remind John of the housework.
  • You believe that if you don’t do it, no one will.

You are John:

  • You are sleepy and you don’t want to do anything. You had a rough week. You just want to lie down and watch TV.
  • You are annoyed that Maria constantly nags to do something right now.
  • You think it’s clean enough and there is no need for thorough cleaning.
Team Leader (Julia) tells a member of her team (Paul) that this afternoon he will have to do a demo of the product’s latest version in front of the client.

You are Paul:

  • You’ve recently joined Julia’s team and you are still getting acquainted with the project.
  • You don’t know Julia very well, but she makes a great impression and you try to help her however you can.
  • You have done demos in front of clients many times before in previous projects and know how it’s done.

You are Julia:

  • You can’t do the demo because a personal matter popped up.
  • You don’t know Paul very well, but he’s the only senior and has performed well so far.
  • Paul has recently joined the team and hasn’t seen how you do demos in this team.
  • Because he’s experienced, you know he will manage to do the task on his own.


Conflict Resolution Styles
Iceberg Model
When two people are arguing about something or looking for a solution to a common problem, it is vital that they understand the other person’s point of view.


Very often, or at least in the beginning, people express their positions. However, to understand what the person really wants, you have to understand not only what they say they want, but what they really want.


You should get to the bottom of their iceberg.


Once the two sides in a conflict understand the real interests and needs of the other person, a win-win solution emerges. Even if there is no possibility for such a solution, the way in which the dialogue will develop during the conflict will be much more tolerant, useful, and pleasant.
} THE PILL ends here


The listening and understanding within the team is improved

Conflicts are not considered as something dangerous and something to be avoided.

Role-playing could lead to discussions about real situations and real conflict resolution styles and then an improved team climate.

Realizing what’s your default conflict resolution style could lead to disappointment.

For better effect – take together with

Getting Feedback Exercise
  • Team members don’t put the problems on the table
  • Team members don’t trust each other
  • The team is slow
Clear Communication Exercise
  • People misunderstand you
  • People don’t react as you expect
  • You are often involved in conflicts
  • You can’t defend your position
  • You unwillingly agree to requests
  • You attack when defending