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Animal Exercise

Field of application

Intercultural training

Resume / Brief description


The goal of the exercise is to make it clear to the participants that conflicts can be approached and solved in many different ways. In addition, the participants learn more about their own conflict style and learn to develop different perspectives in conflict resolution.

Target group




Colleagues of the same company or work team

Colleagues working in intercultural contexts

Professionals of different area

Group size

This exercise can involve 10-30 participants. The ideal size is 15-20 participants.


The Animal Exercise has the objective

  • To understand that there are different ways of conflict resolution
  • To gain experience about one's own conflict style



  • 5 different pictures of animals (mouse, snake, elephant, dolphin, owl, lion)
  • Flipchart paper
  • Thick felt pens
  • 30 moderation cards
  • Large room with open space 



  • 60 minutes
  • Another 30-40 minutes for deeper learning

Implementation - Guidelines





1.        Preparation


  • Distribute animal pictures on the walls in the room with sufficient distance.
  • Write definition of conflict resolution on flipchart
  • Explain conflict styles
    • Verbal direct
    • Verbal indirect
    • Emotionally closed
    • Emotionally open

2.       Process


2.1.    Conflict situation (20 minutes)


  • Definition of “conflict"
  • Brainstorming: Collection of ideas for the respective animal images (conflict resolution strategy)
  • Further procedure: Ask the participants to stand up and explain the further procedure as follows:
    • “I will present a series of situations. Please listen carefully to the description.”
    • “Go to the animal symbol that best describes your own reaction in this situation. Remember: There is no right or wrong answer - it is important that you think about your own conflict resolution style in these situations.”
  • Description of the situation
    • Can be individually adapted to the target group: conflicts in private life - with friends - with strangers

2.2.   Evaluation (40 minutes)


  • Ask the participants to name different strategies for dealing with conflicts. Write the mentioned strategies on the moderation cards
  • Participants are asked to find definitions for direct or indirect language in conflicts, emotionally open or reserved behaviour
  • Explain that each participant has his or her own conflict style that can be categorised in a model, such as the Model of intercultural conflict styles according to Mitchell R. Hammer (Intercultural Conflict Style Model, )
  • For example, assign the moderation cards with the behavioural patterns in conflicts to the appropriate fields.

3.       Debriefing


To debrief, you can reflect on the following questions:

  • Between which styles are conflicts most likely to escalate?
  • What strategies could be used to successfully resolve conflict between people with different styles?

4.       Deeper learning (30-40 minutes)


  • Divide the participants into 4 group and work on the following question:
    • "What are the strengths of each conflict style?"
  • Present results

Additional format/references


Thiagarajan, S. (2006). Thiagi´s 100 Favorite Games. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.


Thiagarajan, S. (2016). Interaktive Trainingsmethoden: Thiagis Aktivitäten für berufliches, interkulturelles und politisches Lernen in Gruppen (3. Auflage.). Schwalbach: Wochenschau Verlag.


ICS Inventory (n.d.). Resolving Conflict across Cultural Boundaries: Using the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory (ICS). Available at: