Shrink the Monster

Arguments happen and hopefully you will be able to resolve the conflict. In this blog post we at SEL4CT want to discuss ways to both help you resolve the conflict and ways to muddle through it. Managing conflict is an important part of our daily life, as there is always going to be someone who we do not get along with but have to work with. The American Management Association notes these important steps in resolving conflict: identifying the conflict, understanding the source of the conflict, clear and calm communication, identifying solutions, and finally agreement.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management open communication is an important aspect of conflict resolution. Open communication allows for employees to ask for help from their managers when in a conflict. However, open communication also provides a way for conflicting employees to first try and resolve the issue themselves. When people feel that there is an open line of communication, they are more likely to attempt to resolve the problem at hand themselves instead of going through management or HR. 

Another large part of conflict management is emotional intelligence (also known as SEL). By recognizing, understanding, and managing your emotions it allows you to better manage the conflict you’re having. In other words, by checking your emotions you can better communicate why you are upset without arguing, yelling, or reacting but instead by calmly communicating and actively listening to the person you are in conflict with. The Balance Careers also discusses the importance of empathy in conflict resolution. Their article discusses how empathy allows you to better understand why someone might be upset with you. Empathy helps you not only understand the feelings that someone else is having, but it allows you to better communicate with that individual as you can recognize that something you have done has upset someone. 

Taking a moment to pause and step back from the conflict at hand is another great way to try and resolve the issue at hand. Clarke University notes a few great questions to ask yourself (and those in conflict if you are mediating) when you are in conflict at work and even at home. Please see a few of the questions that they have posed below: 

  • What triggered the conflict?
  • What are you feeling and why?
  • How might your conflict be resolved?

Another very important part about conflict resolution is using “I” statements. Using statements that clearly define how you are feeling and thinking help others understand you. “I” statements are also important in keeping blame out of the situation – which might allow you to better resolve and prevent the conflict from occurring again. Here is a great sentence to start the conversation, just fill in the blanks (this is also a great sentence for students to use when in conflict with other students):

  • “I feel _______ when you _______, because _________. I think _______ could help resolve our conflict and ________ would help us prevent this conflict in the future.”

Now that you have begun the conversation with the individual you are in conflict with, it is important to find common ground to better resolve the issue. This common ground can help make sure that both parties in conflict are feeling content with the end result. Berkeley notes that it is important for people to agree on the problem at hand, agree on change that both parties can make, and agree on what steps can be taken in the future to prevent this conflict from happening again. It is also important for both parties to agree on some form of follow-up communication after the conflict has been resolved to make sure that the conflict is truly resolved. 

Unfortunately adults are not the only ones who face conflict. Children also face conflict and they tend to look to their adults for ways to resolve the problem. PBS Kids for Parents discusses some great ways to help teach children how to resolve conflict. The article notes the importance of modeling behavior and empathy as children learn through watching. Another great trick that PBS mentions is to practice brainstorming solutions and identifying feelings as this practice can come in hand when they are in an actual conflict. Thankfully, many of the topics discussed earlier can be slightly modified to help kids resolve their conflicts too (with the help of an adult as a mediator if needed). The Child Mind Institute notes the importance of practicing “I” statements and empathy skills with children so they can better manage their own conflicts in the future. Although it might be helpful for an adult to mediate the problem, its important to allow the children to explain their emotions. Try using the below sentence to help them practice:

  • “I feel __________ because ___________ , I would feel less _________ if __________.” (this sentence might need to be modified for the age of the child or the problem at hand).

Along with the above “I” statement and brainstorming solutions, it’s also important for children to practice conflict resolution in the classroom. This practice can be done through fun activities, but they create great future skills. Centervention provides a great 30 minute classroom activity to help students practice conflict resolution. The activity article also provides some extra tips on helping students practice conflict resolution such as building a feeling/emotion vocabulary and practicing emotional regulation.

We hope this helps you to resolve the conflicts you might face at work, school, or home.