Virginia Satir Communication Tool for Conflict Resolution

Darya Haitoglou
2 min readMay 4, 2020

It’s a simple and powerful tool to resolve any conflict, based on the work of a pioneer in the systemic family therapy called Virginia Satir. Working with families around the world, Virginia noticed that the ‘temperature’ of relationships can be hot (anger/frustration) or cold (stonewalling or passive-aggression), but it could be measured and it could be changed.

She developed a tool called the ‘Temperature Reading’ which has been applied in clinical settings for therapy as well as corporate and business meetings and with families, couples and individuals wanting to learn better ways to enrich their relationships.

First, you find the time when both parties are not in ‘amygdala hijack’ that means they are not emotionally overwhelmed. Choose a time after dinner or when you feel more relaxed, to dedicate 10–15 minutes to do this exercise.

Then you start one by one to share the following 5 things (let’s imagine it’s you and your partner having a dialogue and you both agree to do this exercise):

  1. Appreciations. All people love to be appreciated and we are longing for this every day. Choose small things that you appreciate about your partner. Tell them that. Tell them what you loved about them when you met. Tell them about things that you appreciate but haven’t shared for a long time. Take turns and now ask your partner to share what they appreciate about you.
  2. New Information. Notice what happens when you don’t update your partner on important and new topics that happen daily in your life, or when they don’t update you. Negative emotions can build up and they would require a release. Here is a chance to prevent that and share what’s new, without any criticism, that your partner is not aware of and ask what they can share that they haven’t yet. Now, both of you are on the same page in terms of information awareness.
  3. Puzzles. If you don’t understand something about your partner’s behaviour or you want to flash some light on a puzzle, a thought that has been bothering you, it’s time to share it here. Be careful not to turn it into a criticism-sharing. This is a neutral stage of puzzle-sharing.
  4. Worry/concern with a recommendation. Here you can share what bothers you and what concern you have about your partner’s behaviour or life in general and (it’s important!) share your recommendation on how to solve it.
  5. Hopes and wishes. Finish the conversation on expressing your hopes and wishes that are positive and future-oriented. This seals the loop with a boost of dopamine and soothes the central nervous system so that your vagus nerve is calm and you are in a good relationship stage with your partner. Take turns to share.

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Darya Haitoglou

Psychologist & Systemic Relationship Coach, author of Enrich Your Relationships Book and EYR Programme.