The Powerful Question that Helps Overcome Conflict

It is almost inevitable that you’ll come into conflict with others at some point in your life. Here’s a science-based question that has been shown to reduce the negative impact when it happens.

At some time in your life you are likely to have been in conflict with someone else – and it can feel really bad can’t it? You probably felt frustrated with the person / people in question, perhaps hard done by and misunderstood.

Well what if I was to tell you that psychologists have found that asking yourself a simple question can help you feel better?

This week I want to do just that.

The insight comes from the psychology department of the University of Waterloo in Canada where researchers asked a group of people to consider a real-life situation in their relationship where they’d had conflict. They then split the group into two and asked the first group to imagine that the conflict was happening right now and to note how they felt emotionally.

However, the other group were also asked to consider the situation but were asked a very specific question just before doing so – “how will you feel about the situation in a year’s time?”

Let me repeat it – “How will you feel about the situation in a year’s time?”

The results of simply asking this question was staggering with the research indicating that annoyance, anger and frustration levels with others reduced whilst levels of forgiveness went up.

So, if you want to reduce the impact of a big argument, research suggest that it might be as simple as mentally shifting to imagine a time in the future when it is likely that the strong emotions of the situation will have faded.

Now, although the specific scenario used by the researchers was in romantic relationships, there is no reason you can’t use the same insights for disagreements with family or workplace colleagues too.

Enjoy using this powerful tool and I’ll be back next week with some more meetology® – helping you thrive professionally and personally by making people skills one of your superpowers.

Have a good week,


Jonathan Bradshaw
The Meetology® Lab


Huynh, Alex C., Daniel Y-J. Yang, and Igor Grossmann. “The value of prospective reasoning for close relationships.” Social Psychological and Personality Science 7.8 (2016): 893-902.





About the Author:

Jonathan Bradshaw presents and trains internationally on the fascinating psychology powering exceptional interpersonal communication. He is Founder of the Meetology® Lab and leads the company’s team of behavioral psychologists in collating and sharing cutting-edge research on exceptional people skills. As an experienced and engaging keynote speaker Jon has presented at conferences and business events in over 30 countries and is an award-winning columnist and blogger. Learn more about him speaking at your next event via or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.