Reducing Conflicts with the THINK Skill


Do you have trouble resolving conflicts with others? Do you find it difficult to work things out, but you’re not sure why?

Often times, when we are interacting with others—particularly when we are disagreeing or arguing with someone else—we approach the situation with a negative mindset. Our brains naturally interpret the other person’s words and actions as negative or threatening. As a result, we jump to conclusions, quickly lash out, and become hostile or defensive. Our emotions (like anger and frustration) can take control of our actions during these situations. This clearly is not acting in an effective manner, especially if your goal is to improve your relationships and communicate in a more healthy way with others.

Luckily, there’s a DBT skill which you can employ to reduce disagreements. Use the THINK skill to move from an Emotion Minded place into Wise Mind, where you are able to solve conflicts more effectively. Here’s how it works:

  • T: Think  -
    Think about the situation from the other person’s perspective. How might he or she be interpreting the situation, as well as your words and actions? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

  • H: Have empathy -
    What might the other person be feeling or thinking? Might he or she be sad? Angry? Annoyed? Frustrated? It’s important to consider how the other person is feeling too.

  • I: Interpretations -
    Can you identify more than one interpretation, or an alternative explanation, for the person’s behavior(s)? Make sure to consider at least one positive, or good, interpretation of the situation.

  • N: Notice -
    How has the other person been trying to improve the situation? How has the other person been trying to use his or her own skills, or show that he or she cares? OR notice how he or she may be struggling with stressors or problems of his or her own - this can affect how the person is acting in the present moment.

  • K: use Kindness -
    Remember a kind and gentle approach when interacting with the other person. Treat the other person the way that you want to be treated.


Don’t let a negative mindset and powerful emotions get in the way of resolving conflicts. Using the THINK skill along with other Interpersonal Effectiveness skills, such as GIVE, FAST, and DEARMAN, will help you develop and keep more healthy and long-lasting relationships with others.