Conflict is a fact of life. Some thrive on conflict and others avoid it. In order to help middle schoolers develop the skills they need to navigate the tricky conflicts of the real world, United Way teamed up with the NFL and EVERFI to develop the game changing digital platform Character Playbook. Here are some key conflict resolution guidelines that can help anyone resolve a range of conflicts in a healthy way:
Schedule time: Ask if this is a good time to discuss a particular issue, if it is not a good time, then find another, and schedule it. This gives the other party time to mentally prepare for the discussion, will make them less defensive and lead to a more productive conversation.
Face to Face: Dealing with someone in person is always better, than an email, phone call or text. It takes courage to express yourself in person but you will show courtesy and respect to the other person and resolve the conflict faster, which is the ultimate goal.
Keep an Open Mind: Before you jump to a conclusion, try to understand where the other person is coming from. Rather than just stating how their behavior, opinion or action is affecting you, try and understand what their experience is and why they are doing that particular thing in order to understand the bigger picture. Also, come to the discussion prepared with a few suggestions for a solution – not just a list of grievances.
Keep Calm: Don’t interrupt the other person, but wait until they are finished speaking, before you start talking. If you are the one talking, give the other person time to speak. If you feel yourself or the person become flooded, or overwhelmed with emotion, recognize that, show grace and suggest tabling the discussion for now, and schedule another time to finish it.
Seek Counsel: To prepare for and resolve a conflict, do not be afraid to consult someone that you trust: a parent, friend, teacher, mentor, or someone from your church, that can help you see the situation from a different viewpoint and come up with a plan to solve it.
Make improvement your goal: Make an improvement - not just winning the argument - your goal. By seeking an improvement over the conflicted state and treating the other person with compassion and calm you will have succeeded in achieving a healthy conflict resolution.
United Way believes that healthy communities are made stronger when all voices are heard and people have the tools to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. It’s a skillset that grows over time and it’s never too early to put these practices in motion. Learn how United Way is helping the next generation develop good character and build healthy relationships through Character Playbook.