This blog post includes six engaging conflict management activities and a conflict management model with practical strategies to create lesson plans for teaching high school students about conflict resolution techniques.
Conflict is something we all deal with many times in our lives. Maybe you’ve argued with a friend, you and a co-worker can’t agree on handling a project, or a student’s behavior disrupts lessons. Maybe your parents are constantly arguing about one thing or another. If these situations sound familiar, you’re not alone: everyone has to deal with conflict at some point. Conflict has been a part of every society and every culture since humans began living together in groups.
Teaching Conflict Management
The teenage years can be full of intense emotions and many students have a hard time or even a negative experience with conflict situations. With the proper conflict resolution skills, we can assist teens in finding different ways to make more sound decisions, work through problems independently, and comprehend the contrast between what is a healthy and an unhealthy relationship. Teaching conflict management to young people is a great way to reinforce social-emotional skills, social skills, and ultimately a more positive social experience with positive outcomes for students.
Respectful problem solving is the best way to prepare students for the future. Teaching them how to resolve everyday conflicts in a respectful way will help them lead healthier and more independent lives. Including different scenarios in unit plans and lesson plans with difficult situations, strong emotions, conflict resolution styles, reflective listening, different types of conflict, and effective conflict resolution strategies sets young people up for adulthood. These skills are essential for success in any area of life, so it’s important to start learning them early on.
Conflicts are bound to occur between people, whether in an argument about the best place for lunch or who brought the milk home from the grocery store. Interpersonal conflict is common between people who are intertwined in a personal relationship or have some professional association. It is not uncommon that you could conflict with someone, and that person may be a good friend or even one of your students.
Interpersonal conflicts are a normal and expected part of many relationships. We each experience conflict differently. Once we learn how to handle conflict effectively, we are one step closer to a happier and more harmonious life. Having an effective response to common conflicts us to overcome disputes quickly and preserve relationships for the long term.
The following tips can help you approach conflicts respectfully and productively:
- First, be aware of the potential impact your expectations of others may have on their behavior.
- Be mindful of your values, attitudes, and behaviors. Your perception of a given situation may differ from the other person’s. You may assume you both share the same values or emotions when, in fact, you don’t.
- Be aware that the conflict situation is about the issues and not the person. Learn to separate the people and their behavior and not the person.
Separate the People from the Problem
Separating the people from the problem situation starts with focusing on behavior. Then, we consider the relationship with the other person. When the connection is of value to our lives, it is crucial to take a step back to assess the situation.
Focusing on the behavior in conflict is an essential skill for emotional intelligence and conflict management. When we focus on what someone does and not who they are, we minimize defensiveness and feelings of alienation, thus causing more conflict.
Focusing on the positive behaviors you want to see in the classroom or meeting room reinforces the value of creating strategic solutions together.
Commit to the idea that there are problematic behaviors instead of difficult people. Most people are not difficult but behave in situation-specific ways. They do things depending on the context or environment. For example, a person can be nice to his wife but rude to taxi drivers. So it’s inaccurate to say that a person is difficult.
People simply behave differently. One of the reasons is that behavior is cultural. Our families, workplaces, and classrooms all adopt their own cultures and ways of doing things. In addition, in ethnic culture, different nationalities have different views on acceptable behavior and what is not. Take, for example, Japan, where people get offended if you, the train, or the meeting, don’t start on time.
Learning how to separate people from the problem is simple. Listen to understand rather than to reply. Once we know another person’s perspective about the conflict situation, the common ground between us begins to emerge. Listening to understand helps manage conflict effectively, so it doesn’t escalate and become destructive.
For the conflict situations we face each day, there is a formula or process that we may use to manage the conflict. We often shy away from conflict because we fear it will become a heated argument. However, if managed correctly, conflict can be an extremely beneficial tool.
Preparing is the most important thing you can do when dealing with conflict. Assess the situation, reflect on the events leading up to the conflict, check your perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes, and remain as calm as possible. Remember, we can’t control every aspect of a conflict, but we can control ourselves, giving you a greater chance of success.
Even if you’re feeling frustrated or angry, think about what you want to say and express. Practicing emotional intelligence in conflict situations is empowering. Then, remove yourself from the situation or the conversation, or even walk away from the problem for a few minutes before getting involved again. We can’t control how the other person will react, but we do have control over ourselves. If you respond with kindness and openness, you’ll have more chance of having your desired outcome.
When you’re in the middle of a conflict, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of the problem and forget what to do. But, by using a proven process for resolving everyday conflicts and engaging emotional intelligence, you can keep your relationships strong and avoid making things worse.
Emotional intelligence directly relates to how you manage and engage in the cycle of conflict. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was originated by the psychologist Daniel Goleman and is defined as:
A form of intelligence relating to the emotional side of life, such as the ability to recognize and manage one’s and others’ emotions, motivate oneself and restrain impulses, and handle interpersonal relationships effectively.Goleman, 1997
Demonstrated emotional competence is apparent when individuals possess specific capacities to manage their emotions, motivate themselves when faced with adversity, and communicate effectively.
Our emotional mind is the primal and instinctive part of our brain that ‘feels’ what is taking place first, then second, we ‘think’ about possible options for decisions with our rational brain. For example, when faced with a conflict situation, our initial response may be to fight, flee, or freeze. The emotional part of our brain functions through reaction and is considered the hub of our Emotional Intelligence.
Becoming Emotionally Intelligent
Becoming emotionally intelligent is acknowledging that the emotional brain exists and reacts before we have an opportunity to think. This is achieved dramatically by:
- Knowing your feelings and using them to make life decisions you can live with;
- Being able to manage your emotional life without being hijacked by it — not being paralyzed by depression or worry or swept away by anger;
- Persisting in the face of setbacks and channeling your impulses to pursue your goals;
- Empathy — reading other people’s emotions without their having to tell you what they are feeling;
Handling feelings in relationships with skill and harmony and articulating the unspoken pulse of a group, for example.
Managing Emotional Intelligence
Goleman suggests the following strategies to manage emotional intelligence:
- To motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustration;
- To control impulse and delay gratification;
- To regulate one’s moods and keep feelings of distress from swamping the ability to think.
When we employ the strategy of motivating ourselves and persisting in the face of frustration, we need to think and ask ourselves the following:
- Responding with fear and anger is not always appropriate or necessary, and does this situation require this type of response;
- Stimuli are not always related to a tangible threat to self-esteem, dignity, ‘face’, or personal safety. So, does this situation require this type of response;
Sometimes we become frustrated in pursuing goals. How can we remain motivated to overcome feelings of frustration, fear, or anger while maintaining course?
It is essential to recognize when the alarms are going off to control our impulses and delay gratification. For example, think about a situation when you are driving, and you see or hear about ‘road rage and how an individual has responded in a situation with aggressive and explosive behaviors.
From the outside looking in, we will assume that the individual who ‘loses it’ on the road is not demonstrating a high level of functioning in the emotional brain in this situation.
Sometimes a residual lousy day at work carries over to home, and the drive between the two points can be stimulated by other areas of this person’s life. In these situations, we must recognize when we are in a place where we become stimulated and how we feel.
Whether the feeling is immediate or occurs without us taking time before we respond, becoming aware of how we respond when stimulated is the first step in controlling our impulses and delaying gratification.
Emotional Intelligence Activity
The following reflection activity will help students to start to uncover their patterns of behavior when they are emotionally stimulated.
Give students a copy of this activity to reflect on a current conflict situation.
Please take a few moments to reflect on a situation where you responded by fight, flight, or freeze. Then, on the Right-Hand side of this handout, write down what was said in the situation. On the Left-Hand side of this handout, write down what you didn’t say in the situation. Then, answer the six questions below on the back of this handout.
|Left Hand||Right Hand|
- What were you thinking and feeling but didn’t say?
- What was your intention?
- Did you accomplish what you had intended?
- What did you do to contribute to making things worse?
- What could you have done differently?
- Is this a typical pattern for you in conflict situations?
- Why didn’t you say what is on the Left-Hand side?
Regulating Emotional Intelligence
When we work to regulate our moods to keep emerging distress from swamping our ability to think, it is essential to:
- First, recognize when you are becoming increasingly frustrated and angry.
- Then, think about how you change moods.
- Next, think about what pattern of behavior in your cycle of conflict may be in the situation.
Finally, reflect on the EQ reflection activity and what you know to be true about how you respond to emotional stimulation.
Emotional Intelligence Quiz
To test your level of emotional intelligence, or for your students to test theirs, you can complete this quick online quiz:
Focusing on Issues
When you’re upset, the issues involved in the conflict may seem more significant than they are.
The first step to effective conflict resolution is to keep the focus on the issues and not on personalities. If you get caught up in personal attacks or blame, you won’t be able to work towards a resolution that’s best for everyone. Instead, lead the conversation by viewing the situation objectively and staying focused on finding a solution that works for everyone.
Focusing on the issues of the conflict situation is an opportunity to discuss and solve problems and disagreements. The best way to do this is to stay on track by focusing on the issues involved in the conflict. Ten times out of ten, being right is not essential in a conflict situation.
These two steps help to maintain focus on the issues:
- Listen actively and without judgment. This means trying to understand where the other person is coming from without immediately jumping to conclusions or getting defensive.
- Communicate openly and honestly about what you’re feeling and why. Then, when you’re calm, you’ll be better able to listen, say what you want and be understood, and accept your alternative’s point of view. You’ll also be less likely to make an off-the-cuff remark that’s hurtful.
Responding to Conflict
Thinking about our response to a conflict situation is helpful to our understanding of how to resolve the conflict situation. Sometimes we must collect our thoughts and feelings before engaging in conflict management. These questions for reflection help to prepare us to address the issues:
- What’s happening?
- How am I feeling?
- What are the physical symptoms? (chills, tension, tiredness, heat, etc.)
- What do I need to feel comfortable?
- What do I need to do to feel confident?
- What are the issues?
- What’s the best way to handle this?
- Is this a problem that needs to be resolved right now?
- When is a good time to address the issues?
- What do I need to do first to address the concerns?
There are also situations where we are willing to engage in a conflict as long as we have the correct information to help us resolve that conflict. The problem is we may not have the information when presented with an opportunity. When this happens, we need to know how much time to allow for gaining that information. Again, this will help us determine whether we should risk engaging in a conflict at this time.
Collaborative Conflict Resolution
Collaborative conflict resolution is a process focused on working together to develop acceptable solutions to conflict situations. It requires managing the conflict collaboratively, such as working on a win-win situation while using alternative dispute resolution methods to ensure we stay in collaboration mode.
This approach to conflict management is characterized by the use of active listening skills, negotiation skills, and the use of a win-win attitude as opposed to a win-lose mindset. In addition, this approach emphasizes the importance of communicating with one another to resolve the conflict in a way that benefits all parties and produces reasonable solutions for everyone involved.
Problem Solving Approach
The problem-solving approach to managing conflict requires identifying the root cause of the conflict and devising a solution that would resolve the dispute adequately and satisfactorily. If we take this approach, we will have to compromise our personal view or vision of the resolution. However, if the resolution we came up with is satisfactory to all parties, then we may just have prevented an otherwise intractable conflict from escalating.
It is not uncommon to see this approach used in mediation or many types of negotiations. To my mind, it tends to come into play when we want to get to a resolution, but the other party wants to win. As long as we feel like the other party is willing to work with us and the solution is fair, this can be an effective way to resolve a conflict.
Problem-solving and solution-focused approaches are more malleable and favor relationships over outcomes. Both parties have the opportunity to generate alternatives to the problem and determine the best way to resolve the conflict. A more effective approach to managing conflict emphasizes collaboration and focuses on the relationship between the other parties and us. In this approach, various interests can be managed so that everyone gains something from the outcome of the conflict. This is accomplished by working to help everyone involved in the conflict come to a favorable win-win situation.
Set boundaries and define what is okay in your world and what is not okay. Remember, communication is more than just talking: It’s about listening, understanding, sharing, and respecting the other person. Anyone can speak, but to communicate well is an art.
Practice managing conflict with these solution-focused strategies:
- Practice effective communication skills—especially active listening. Effective communication is essential when we’re trying to resolve conflict healthily. Use qualifying language to indicate that what is said is a subjective opinion, not a fact. For example, qualifying statements such as “what I think,” “the way I see it,” or “to my way of thinking” places the opinion in question within the context of the speaker.
- Practice assertiveness. Assertiveness is when we stand up for ourselves and our ideas while expressing ourselves and respecting the other person’s rights. Assertive communication is a healthy way to avoid the extremes of aggression and passivity and to resolve conflict quickly. Assertiveness involves being open to the other person’s perspective and feelings without letting them dictate how we feel or what we do.
- Practice helps. People who disagree with us can be irritated by our tone or behavior. Practice using a relaxed, assertive manner and body language. Practice using clear, simple language. Practice speaking privately to weigh the pros and cons of responding to someone or something that has angered us.
- Be open-minded about the needs and rights of others and prepare to accept some things we don’t like, appreciate, or agree with.
- Be direct. We’re probably not going to be successful in a conflict or any other situation where there’s a power differential if we’re indirect in our communication. Stay focused on addressing and resolving the critical issues in a conflict, keeping the discussion focused and positive, and expressing yourself in a way that promotes understanding.
- Be willing to do what it takes to reach an agreement. In a conflict, each party has to be willing to make some concessions to reach an acceptable agreement. If we can’t agree on a solution, remember that we can agree on a principle that will guide future discussions and decision-making.
Agree to Disagree Strategy
In situations when another person disagrees with your point of view, don’t keep trying to convince them. When this is the case, decide to go your separate ways and acknowledge the common ground between you, then talk again later.
We are not responsible for other people’s feelings, perceptions, or decisions. Instead, focus on finding solutions that will work for everyone and move forward. Keeping momentum in finding a solution together is critical but does not require coming to a solution in one meeting. Remember the goal. We are not necessarily seeking to win an argument or persuade someone to see our point of view (although it can be satisfying when that happens).
The most important thing to remember is not to respond in anger or to take the conflict personally. By following these steps and staying focused on the issues, you should be able to resolve the dispute and maintain a positive relationship.
Individuals bring their unique personalities, perceptions, and feelings to the table when they are engaged in conflict. These characteristics are not always bad, as they can enhance our ability to resolve disputes in our relationships. The challenge comes in how we handle our differences. If we tend to avoid conflict, we’re likely communicating in a way that further distances us from resolution. Our communication style in conflict situations influences how we engage with others and how willing we are to resolve the issues.
We are all individuals and constantly want to be perceived as special, unique, and different from one another. We also have verbal, cognitive, and behavioral patterns that we utilize when we communicate. This can hinder the resolution of conflict in relationships.
All conflict is a form of relationship. The fittest relationship survives. On the other hand, if we find ourselves in a relationship that’s toxic – destructive, harmful, hurts us or others, makes us miserable – we should ask ourselves why we’re there and what other options are available to us.
Conflict Management Model Activities
For the conflict situations we face each day, there is a formula or process that we may use to manage the conflict. First, however, it is essential to recognize that conflict is inevitable and that there is value to the conflict we experience.
The conflict management model and these activities are helpful for students to gain a deeper understanding of their role in conflict situations.
Perception Checking Activity
The conflict management model includes a variety of necessary skills for us to practice when faced with a conflict situation. An essential skill for students to develop is perception checking. However, to practice perception checking, we must first understand perception and how it influences our interpersonal communication and relationships.
Perception is the process whereby we assign meaning to the world around us. However, we all look at the world differently, have different experiences, and create different interpretations of what we see around us.
Selection, organization, and interpretation are the three main elements of the psychological process we naturally go through as we exercise our ability to perceive. Perception is “the process whereby we assign meaning to the world around us” (Adler, 2004). Our perception of ourselves, our perception of the world around us, and how we relate to the world around us influence our interactions with others.
External factors influence our perceptions. For example, physiological influences, cultural differences, social roles, self-concept, and shared narratives are vital in how we perceive ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us.
Perception and Interpersonal Communication
Many things influence perception. More importantly, as it relates to interpersonal communication, we all share common tendencies in perception:
We judge ourselves more charitably than others. To convince ourselves and others that the positive face we present to the world is accurate, we consider ourselves more generously, and this tendency is called self-serving bias. This bias influences how we engage in and interact in our interpersonal communication and relationships.
We cling to first impressions. We label people according to our first impressions to make some interpretations about them: “She seems cheerful.” “He seems sincere.” “They sound arrogant.” We are naturally hardwired as mammals to respond to a sense of certainty in our environments. Our survival is dependent upon this certainty. When we label, we no longer need to worry about uncertainty because we know what to expect and have a sense of knowing the future by attributing meaning to the labels.
We assume that others are similar to us. We tend to think that others’ views are similar to our own, which applies to many situations. We naturally are attracted to those around us who share similar interests. Again, we are hardwired as mammals to connect, which is part of our innate desire for survival. There is strength in numbers, and our experiences are predictable, enjoyable, and safe when we are among similar people. At least from the view of our perception.
Influenced by the Obvious
We are influenced by the obvious. Being influenced by the obvious is understandable. However, is the most obvious the most accurate? Knowing we are hardwired for how we view the world and what our perception is influenced by, being able to see beyond the obvious takes an acquired skill and practice. Checking your perceptions and the perceptions of others in your interpersonal communication and relationships will help you to uncover opportunities you never knew existed.
Perception Checking Strategy
We know serious problems can arise when we treat our interpretations of a person’s comments or behaviors as facts. So how do we move beyond these powerful tendencies to a place of skilled leadership in our interpersonal communication and relationships?
A simple strategy of perception checking to confirm your perceptions will help you sort through a situation before it gets out of hand and move you to a place of empowerment. In addition, this approach puts listeners at ease, making them more likely to open up to you. You will then have the opportunity to uncover missed or new opportunities and explore outcomes from your perception checking you haven’t considered.
Elements of Perception Checking
- Description – describe the behavior you noticed.
- Interpretation – provide two possible interpretations of the behavior.
- Clarification – request clarification from the person about the behavior & your interpretations.
To conclude, the process of perception checking in the Conflict Management Model is a crucial leadership skill. Like with any skill development, perception checking takes time and practice. Writing out the elements of perception checking is helpful to see any missed opportunities about your intentions for initiating this form of communication.
Difficult Conversations Activity
The conflict management model provides a necessary framework for managing difficult conversations. We all have to deal with conflict management at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, conflict is unavoidable, whether it’s a disagreement with a friend, family member, or co-worker. But there are ways to manage conflict effectively, so it doesn’t escalate and become destructive. This activity provides students with a proven process for resolving everyday conflicts to keep their relationships strong and avoid making things worse.
Provide students with a copy of the following information and handout. Give them time to work through the activity in the handout. They will gain immense value from practicing the confrontation model in small groups.
Conflict management skills are the most important life and communication skills you will need in adulthood. And this need is essential. A significant step you’ll take in developing said skill is knowing how to deal with difficult conversations, which is summarized below:
- Practice how to get started. Once you recognize the need to deal with a difficult conversation, the inevitable next step is to get started. Like preparing for a presentation, be ready for the talk.
- Choose an appropriate place to talk. The location of the conversation could be as important as how it went. Look for a venue where both or all of you would not be easily distracted, and none of the parties will feel embarrassed.
- Remember that there are two people in a discussion. A discussion is a two-way activity where the other person, even though they should be on the receiving end, must be given a chance to air their side. So open the floor and ask them about what’s happening, especially if they become silent.
- Acknowledge emotions. Difficult conversations involve at least two people, meaning the other is not a robot whom you should expect not to show emotions. Take the time to cool down when the discussion becomes too heated. Walking out should not be the way to go.
- Remain calm. Staying calm is not a gift but an acquired skill. It’s a tactic that always works for the person talking and the other who is losing it. If one party calms down, the other will, most of the time, follow.
- Keep your body language in check. Even if what you’re saying is good, the person you’re talking to might pick up wrong signals about how you physically express yourself.
- It’s all in the tone. Don’t say one thing and mean another by your tone. Consistency is key.
The following handout with the Confrontation Model will help students prepare for addressing a conflict situation:
Conflict Management Model (4 Stages) Activity
This activity unpacks a proven strategy for resolving conflict. Originally developed at Harvard Law, Program of Negotiation, the model presented here is designed for teachers to use with high school students.
Students will work through this activity in a couple of ways:
- They will work through understanding how to uncover the interests and needs in a conflict situation.
- They will work through developing an understanding of the 4-stage Conflict Management Model.
- They will apply their learning about the interests and needs along with the 4-Stage Conflict Management Model to a scenario.
These resources are designed to be given to students in order.
Interests and Needs Activity
For each conflict we have, there are underlying unmet interests and needs that are at the heart of a conflict situation. These unmet interests and needs fall into three categories:
- Conflict over resources
- Conflict over psychological needs
- Conflict over values
Most conflict situations present themselves as a conflict over resources. Conflict over resources is usually our first point of contention in any conflict.
Conflict over psychological needs takes the most effort to expose because of our interest and need to be safe, secure, and free from harm. In addition, it is an innate survival skill of ours not to want to participate in any experience that may cause us harm or ill feelings.
Interests and Needs
The teacher will lead the activity by providing the students with an opportunity to identify the individual and mutual interests and needs of the characters in a fiction story. By making a comprehensive list, the students must specify both the individual and the mutually shared CHEAP BFVs for the characters in their stories. Then, while discussing their characters’ underlying interests and needs, the students will practice what it is like to reach an understanding of the conflict.
It is crucial to seek out the desired information about why the conflict is important to the parties in a neutral and consistent way. An excellent guide is to offer the acronym ‘CHEAP BFVs’ (Carleton University, 2006) to the participants and have each participant identify their own CHEAP BFVs for the conflict situation.
CHEAP BFV’s are:
The following handout can be shared with students:
The CHEAP BFVs are where parties will find common ground in the conflict. There is common ground for each conflict we experience with someone else. If there were no common ground or common interest concerning the conflict, there would be no conflict. Once the CHEAP BFVs are explored and discussed, the parties can identify the mutually shared interests and needs concerning the conflict. The parties must recognize that there may be individual interests and needs. There is value in a mix of shared and personal interests and needs. At the end of this stage, the parties, through their communication skills, will have understood the importance of the conflict to each involved.
The following handout gives examples of reframing interests and needs:
4-Stage Conflict Management Model Activity
This activity is designed to deliver an overview of the 4-stage Conflict Management Model. Then, students will apply the model to a conflict scenario.
Teachers will choose a fiction story to use for this activity. I recommend using ‘The True Story of the Three Little Pigs’ (Smith, 1996). Other stories or current events are also helpful for students to apply the model to a real-world situation. This activity aims to provide students with a simple yet engaging conflict situation for them to work through the four stages of the model. Keep it simple and fun.
This blog post shares example stories from the antagonists’ perspectives:
Small groups work best for this activity. One teaching method for this activity is for the class to share the CHEAP BFVs. The teacher may either lead the group to work through the 4-stage Conflict Management Model together as a class or ask students to break off into teams of 3-5 to work through the model independently in a step-by-step process.
Differentiation of Instruction
Other modifications include having a smaller group of students work through Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 of the Conflict Management Model. For Stage 4 of the Conflict Management Model, the whole class works together with the teacher leading the discussion until reaching resolutions.
Either way, it is crucial for learning about the Conflict Management Model that students have an opportunity to work through the model, one stage at a time to explore options for resolution of the conflict between the characters of their story.
Once students have completed the CHEAP BFVs activity in their story, the teacher will facilitate a group class discussion where each group shares their findings.
To successfully implement the Conflict Management Model in our lives, we must first recognize and acknowledge that conflict exists. Once we recognize and acknowledge that a conflict exists, we choose to become committed to seeking a resolution for the conflict. This commitment is essential because we must identify what we are committed to resolving.
This second stage of the Conflict Management Model involves identifying the topic of the conflict that needs to be resolved. Just like when looking at a map of where we would like to travel, we must first know where we are starting to make an accurate travel plan and itinerary for our destination. If our goal is to hopefully resolve a conflict with a friend, we must know what the conflict is about to reach our desired outcome successfully.
Thirdly, it is essential at this stage of the Conflict Management Model to understand why the issue of the conflict or the topic of the conflict is necessary to all parties. This is accomplished through using active listening techniques. Reflecting on the content and feelings and responding with empathy are the only communication skills needed to send a clear message to the listener. In this stage of the conflict managing process, we can seek out the required information about the unmet psychological needs and interests concerning the conflict.
Here is a blog post with lesson plan examples of how to use reflecting skills for active listening:
Lastly, the fourth stage of the Conflict Management Model is to resolve the conflict. The resolution stage of this process is discovered by finding out how each person may resolve the dispute among the participants. It is crucial not to evaluate or weigh any of the options generated until the list of possibilities is exhausted, and the participants are out of ideas. Once the list is complete, evaluate options based on the shared and individual interests and needs criteria and work on a plan together. It is essential to include how the parties will communicate and what will happen if one or more parties do not follow through on the plan.
The following handout includes the Conflict Management Model Overview:
Overview of the 4-Stage Conflict Management Model
Stage 1 Introduction: Identify that there is a conflict or an issue to be resolved
- clarify with the other party if a conflict exists
- establish time and place to discuss the problem (s)
- establish confidentiality (who needs to know about the outcome)
Stage 2 Topic: Determine WHAT needs to be resolved
- the TOPIC of the conflict (e.g., Roles, Responsibilities, and so forth.) make an agenda if there are two or more issues
Stage 3 Importance: Understand WHY it is important
- discuss underlying interests and needs (CHEAP BFVs)
- seek clarification from each party
- clarify any assumptions and perceptions
- “seek first to understand and then be understood’” active listening skills
Stage 4 Solutions: HOW will this be resolved?
- brainstorm for possible options for resolution
- evaluate each option based on the criteria discussed (e.g., Policy, Time, Position, and so forth)
- work together collaboratively to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
This handout illustrates the four stages:
The Conflict Management model helps us better understand why we behave the way we do in conflict. Regardless of where we begin in understanding the choices we make, it is essential to remember that feelings always influence our choices. So, we must learn to understand ourselves and others to negotiate solutions effectively.
We may need to challenge ourselves to see through the lens of our partner, family member, or friend rather than relying on our personal views. We may need to resist the urge to argue or to try to bend the other person to our will. Both of these are common reflexes in various situations when faced with a person or group with differing opinions. These responses create rigidity between the parties and erect barriers that can impede resolution. The Conflict Management Model helps us to unpack these two reactions leaving us better equipped to manage problems, navigate relationships, and understand ourselves.
We must consider many elements and layers for practical solutions to manage and resolve disputes. The Conflict Managing Model and strategies explored in this blog post are shared with the belief that when we apply theoretical models in the practical domain for conflict intervention, we manage the conflict situation and hopefully resolve the conflict or dispute.
How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? | SOLUTIONS FOR LIVING. (2020, February 18). https://www.solutionsforliving.ca/2020/02/how-emotionally-intelligent-are-you/
Perception Checking as a Key Leadership Skill. (n.d.). http://Www.linkedin.com. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/perception-checking-key-leadership-skill-suzanne-marie
Perception Checking Procedure. (n.d.). Creducation.net. https://creducation.net/resources/perception_checking/perception_checking_procedure.html
TACT (Teens and Conflict Together): A Facilitator’s Guide for Empowering Youth to Engage in Creative Problem Solving: Petryshyn, MA., Chartered Mediator, Suzanne: 9781451516593: Books – Amazon.ca. (2022). Amazon.ca.
How to Successfully Teach Teens Conflict Resolution Skills
If you are an educator, parent, or grandparent and looking for practical strategies to use with children, concepts to understand, and ideas that can be easily implemented about how to create space for self and others, you have landed in the right spot.
Children learn how to solve problems the same way they learn how to read, write, and add. Like reading, writing, and adding, there are three specific components to solving problems. These are teachable skills children can learn at any age.