No matter what age we are, conflict in life is inevitable. Two toddlers will want to play with the same toy and refuse to share it; elementary students will have conflict with teachers as they try to enforce school rules and encourage appropriate classroom behavior; high school students will disagree with parents over "unfair" curfews, spending habits or cell phone over-use.
No matter what age we are, conflict in life is inevitable. Two toddlers will want to play with the same toy and refuse to share it; elementary students will have conflict with teachers as they try to enforce school rules and encourage appropriate classroom behavior; high school students will disagree with parents over "unfair" curfews, spending habits or cell phone over-use. As adults, we often have conflicting points of view with co-workers, supervisors or neighbors. Managing conflict can be a difficult task, especially when emotions are running high. Yet all of the conflicts we encounter, especially minor ones, are great opportunities to practice these problem-solving skills:
Conflict = Problem. Conflict is nothing more than a problem for which we can find a solution. While it can be difficult to keep emotions at bay, if you use the same process for solving conflict as you would for solving any other problem, the solution can often appear with relatively little effort. Step back from the situation and try to see everything as if you are not involved in the fray. A conflict often looks very different - and solvable - when you use this technique first.
Communication is key. It might be a cliché, but having an open and honest exchange of ideas can work wonders for solving conflict. Misunderstandings are a common reason disagreements occur. We're often saying the same thing or feeling a similar way as the person we are angry at, but just expressing it differently. While talking it over, just remember that while your goal is to be honest, you shouldn't be disrespectful or mean. Give the other person a fair chance to speak freely without being interrupted.
Break it down into four simple steps. When you're in the middle of a conflict with someone, it's common to feel like it's too complicated to solve. But if you simplify the issue, it can lead to a solution that works for everyone.
First, define what the problem really is. Accept honest input from those involved and be sure to listen to what they are really saying. Be sure to identify the important issues without affixing blame. Use factual statements and avoid exaggeration by using words like "always" and "never."
Second, brainstorm for ways to solve the problem in as many ways as you can think of. Even if it seems like none of the options will work, write them all down and discuss why each one will or won't work, or what could be improved to make the solution more effective at solving the problem.
Third, select the best option on your list. This isn't an easy task; you might feel like there aren't any "perfect" answers. But spending too much time brainstorming can interfere with the momentum you have created to solve the conflict, so don't lose it.
Forth, act on it. Don't hesitate or second-guess your solution. Put it to work right away - you can always tweak it later to better suit the conflict. Concentrating on the options, rather than the conflict, will put everyone involved on a more positive track toward a permanent solution that everyone feels is a win-win.
Mediate it. Sometimes even your best efforts to solve a conflict just doesn't work out. In these cases, it's helpful to find a mediator who will help you negotiate a conflict. You can ask a mutual friend, family member or an objective party to help you solve the problem. The mediator's job will not be to tell you what to do, but to help you sort through all the facts in order to negotiate a compromise. A mediator will see the situation objectively and help you see the conflict in the same way.
About The Author
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