Article Details

How The OK Corral relates to conflict

“Two wrongs don’t make a right.”


An old cliché maybe, but never have words been truer than when it comes to conflict resolution.


You see….


As the “OK Corral” picture above demonstrates, there are 4 basic positions that you can operate from in a conflict situation.


The “Healthy” position is where you maintain a deeper level of respect for yourself AND for the other person in the conflict.


An “I’m ok, you’re ok” position which means you don’t just give in, but you are willing to try to understand the other person’s position.


In sum, you are looking for that elusive but always possible “win/win” somewhere in the middle of your 2 opposing views.


Sadly, this is the position I see all too little.


So the other positions are all ineffective.


Let’s imagine you are confronted by someone who is quite aggressive in his approach to the conflict.


Many people…


Run away! (not literally)
They jump into the passive, “I’m not ok, you’re ok” position and back down far too quickly.




Go on the attack. They meet aggression with aggression – so now they’re really at the primitive, emotionally charged level of communication.
Kind of “who can should loudest”.
Adrenaline fueled.


And then there’s…


Giving up.
The classic “what’s the point” position of “I’m not OK and you’re not ok” (sometimes called passive-aggressive).


Let me share an example of the OK Corral in action.


Yesterday my wife and I were walking our dog in the local park.


We saw another dog walker with 4 dogs, happily allowing his dogs to poo all over the park with absolutely no attempt to pick it up.


My wife, politely said to him something like, “There’s some over here. We have some spare poo bags if you need some.”


And his reply?


In an aggressive, shouting tone…


“I bloody hate you people. Bugger off.”


So a classic case of my wife coming from a place of “I’m ok, you’re ok” with a response very much rooted in the aggressive “I’m ok, you’re not ok” position.


Here’s the key question…


How do you respond next?


You see…


Going back on the attach of this guy would help nobody.
And at the same time, saying nothing doesn’t help either.


So what’s the “I’m ok, you’re ok” position here?


How do you maintain that level of mutual respect, even when faced with aggression?


Sure, it’s relatively easy to stay respectful when people are nice to you.


The real challenge?


Is how can you remain in the “I’m ok, you’re ok” position when others don’t.


It’s worth thinking about how you respond when faced with aggression, right?


I’m off to remember that it’s only when I operate from a place of mutual respect am I likely to truly resolve a conflict.


How about you?


To your happiness and fulfillment.





Steve Neale
“Europe’s Leading Expert on Personal and Professional Growth”


Psychologist, Executive Coach, EI Practitioner, Award Winning Trainer, International Author, Psychodynamic Therapist, Hypnotherapist, Mindfulness Instructor, International Speaker, Creator of the LPS, Creator of the Accredited Masters in High Performance Leadership

LPS Results Stories