Conflict Animals

Type of Activity: Debriefing tool and Conflict Resolution Tool

Props Needed: Hog Call Cards/Conflict Animal set

Set Up: Group in a circle.

Process: Place the animals in the center of the group.  Begin the conversation about conflict styles by asking your participants to share with you what they know (stereotyping) about the animal in question.  It is important that you also know some basic biological information about each animal.

  • Turtle (withdraw)–Withdraws  from the conflict (hides until it is safe to emerge)
  • Shark (force)—Forces  and tries to make opponents accept his/her
  • Bear (smooth)—Avoids  the conflict when possible
  • Owl (problem solver)—Known  throughout children’s books as the wise old owl…the owl views conflicts as problems to be solved, confronts, seeking solutions that will satisfy both parties
  • Bull—hits the issue head-on when provoked.  Certain triggers ignite anger.
  • Lion—Very proud, works within a group, is King of the jungle.  Another metaphor to work with is the “cowardly lion”, those that tuck their tail and run when faced with conflict.
  • Mouse—Very timid, runs from conflict.
  • Panther—Slinks around in the background, stalks his prey and pounces for the kill.
  • Rabbit—Runs and hides from any kind of conflict.
  • Chicken—Everyone has heard the phrase, “You’re just being a Chicken!”, referring to someone who is shying away from a situation or opting out because they are scared.  Chickens tend to flee from conflict and frighten easily.
  • Elephant—The strongest animal on earth, has an amazing memory, yet when faced with small restrictions (a rope around their foot) it paralyzes them from moving forward.
  • Horse—Can be tamed to do whatever their manager wants them to do.  Very loyal when treated properly.  When faced with conflict it rears back and attempts to protect itself.

Once the group shares enough information you can ask the participants to place themselves into those roles according to how they typically deal with conflict. Some questions to ask might include:  Would you like to work for a “shark”?  Do you know a “turtle” in your workplace or classroom?  Who do you know that is an “owl”? After a short discussion, place the animals around the room.  Ask everyone to move to the location in the room with the animal that best represents their own conflict style.  In dyads and triads hold small group discussions about the similarities and the differences in interpretation of each animal’s qualities.  The rule of feet applies at all times.  If you feel that you need to move to another location, please do so!

The chart below illustrates how depending on the importance of the result, which conflict style we might utilize in any given situation…the value of the goal versus the relationship is often the determining factor.

For more resources see: Setting the Conflict Compass

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