Conflict Management Tips | Silke Lessner

Conflict Management Tips

Conflict is a natural part of human interaction, and being able to resolve or negotiate common disagreements is an essential skill that’s commonly overlooked. Generally, conflict resolution acts as a catalyst for change and presents an opportunity for individual growth.

Whether it’s an issue in the classroom, in the workplace or at home with a loved one, the goal is the same. You want to settle your differences and devise a strategy to effectively move past them. Here, you’ll learn some helpful conflict management tips that you can immediately apply to your daily lives and interactions, no matter the situation.

Tips for handling conflicts with students

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Staying Cool - This completely concerns controlling your own emotions in a conflict situation with a student. For example, when a student accuses you of making his life miserable by giving bad grades, of course you have an emotional reaction. Now, your role model skills come into play by being polite but letting the student know that you don’t care for their tone. Not letting your emotions get in the way will help you and your student solve the conflict.

Talking Privately - In almost all cases, it is a better idea to briefly announce a short meeting with all involved students after class. Then, continue teaching instead of talking about the current conflict with the whole class listening. This shows respect to everybody’s feelings and gives you the chance to handle your own emotions before talking about how to solve the conflict.

Active Listening - When talking about a conflict and how to solve it, it is important that you listen actively. That means fully acknowledging your students’ feelings and being willing to understand the conflict from all the different perspectives. If your students realize you really understand their feelings, they are more willing to compromise.

Helping Students to Calm Down – When things get heated within a conflict, help your students relax by encouraging activities like short breathing exercises. Or, let them write down their feelings and talk about them afterwards.

Absolutely necessary: Teach how to prevent conflicts from the beginning

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Use your connection to your students and teach them conflict resolution tips from the beginning. Teach them the necessary skills they need to avoid conflicts. A big part of that should include becoming aware of their own feelings and thinking them through.

Teach your students to accept different opinions and to respect other people’s feelings. Once they successfully manage that, they are a big step closer to resolving and even avoiding conflicts.

There is one very effective method for teaching your students how to act and react in conflict situations. This method is conducting role play scenarios between your students. Establish role play scenarios that require students to show empathy, listen to the other party and paraphrase what they’ve learned. Students can practice communicating with each other and create a problem-solving atmosphere together instead of making the conflict worse.

Help your students reflect on their actions. Teach them that every action they take has an impact on others, such as family members, classmates and teachers. Help them see how their actions cause reactions and possibly negative feelings.

In a peaceful setting, talk about possible emotional triggers and how to deal with them. That way, you help your students develop valuable life skills.

Role plays and emotional triggers

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Resolving conflict situations can be best practiced in role plays. The big advantage is that negative emotions are not present. They are not part of the play and are not able to impact or trigger any behavior. Your students can fully concentrate on their communication techniques. The more often students practice dealing with conflicts in role play scenarios, the better they remember how to solve conflicts in real situations.

Emotional triggers can emerge out of nowhere and cause real conflicts. Your students need to know where they came from to properly manage them. Triggers can come from negative experiences from the past that were so bad that our brain locked them away before fully processing them. Triggers can be places, words, pictures or sensations, causing the brain to unlock those unprocessed negative emotions. Once those emotions are unlocked, they can lead to various physical reactions like muscle tension or increased heart rate. All of this stress can lead to uncontrolled bad behavior that hurts others physically or verbally.

Managing emotional triggers means knowing, accepting and dealing with them. Students can learn to define possible emotional triggers, like the feeling of being treated unfairly. They can then learn how to deal with those feelings by talking about them.

Manage conflicts with other team members

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In every workplace setting there are very different characters forced to function as a team. Conflicts are almost inevitable to arise at some point. In such cases, you can utilize our effective tips to manage conflict with other team members.

The best advice here is to always ask for private conversations and to be direct, open and willing to fully understand the other side. Try to talk about your goals. You could have common goals but not a common agreement of how to reach that goal. You could also have totally different goals. When you both talk about your goals, you will better understand the current conflict and have a better idea of how to solve it.

If nothing helps in your conversation, and you feel your team member doesn’t listen or try to understand your point of view, it may be better to take the high road. Don’t insist on being right. And don’t hesitate to ask a mediator for help.

Why is it sometimes so difficult not to take sides when mediating conflicts between students?

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Sometimes, when you are trying to help and solve conflicts among students, it’s difficult to stay neutral. Especially when it’s quite obvious who is right and who is wrong. But, because you are human and you also develop emotions which impact your behavior, it can be hard for you to mediate such a conversation. It is just natural to judge, evaluate and take sides based on a feeling about what is right and what is wrong. This is an automatic process in our brain that cannot be stopped.

That’s okay because you can learn to accept this automatic process and still function as a mediator between two students. It helps to be aware that despite all logical judgements, there are still unknown facts about the true motivation from the side you did not take. Try to get to the bottom of them and let your students know you accept all their feelings. Ensure them that you are really trying to understand everything. Teach them that it is ok to have feelings, but it is important which actions are carried out.

Conflict management requires basic skills which everybody can learn

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Solving conflicts does not require extremely complicated skills that are difficult to learn.

Basically, if you are willing to actively listen to what other parties have to say, paraphrase what you understood and acknowledge everyone’s feelings, you are already a step ahead. Becoming aware of your own feelings is just as important. Once you manage your feelings, you are more in control of your following actions.

When engaged in a conversation about a conflict, try to use neutral language without any accusations. Also, starting your sentences with “I” protects you from making any unintended accusations and hurting anybody’s feelings.

Most conflicts can be easily resolved when the personal level does not play a role. There is almost always a difference between the problem and the person. Try to separate the person from the problem.

If you focus on each other’s goals, which may be the same or different, you are automatically trying to create a win-win-situation. Keep thinking goal-oriented instead of problem-oriented, and you’ll see how conflict resolution gets easier.

Applying effective conflict resolution strategies provides countless benefits to your classroom environment and relationships with your students. Learn more tips for dealing with conflict in our conflict resolution course for teachers, which offers hands-on learning objectives to master the art of conflict management.

As a subscriber you gain access to video tutorials like...

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  • Assess potential conflict situations properly by getting a basic understanding of conflict management
  • Prevent critical situations from becoming real conflicts by approaching conflict situations professionally
  • Deal with existing conflicts properly by using the right skills
  • Avoid and handle conflicts with staff members professionally by knowing what’s important to consider.
  • Resolve conflicts easily with one simple method, no matter who the conflict is with.
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    People who know about handling conflicts sleep better. Look forward to be one of those people.