Your Study Guides and Strategies starts here!

Difficulties are meant
to rouse, not discourage.
The human spirit is to grow
strong by conflict.
William Ellery Channing
1780 - 1842 American clergyman

Cooperative learning series

Conflict resolution

One way to peacefully resolve conflict is for each side
  • to come together voluntarily
  • to work cooperatively on the issues
    under the guidance of a trained facilitator

Conflict resolution should be a voluntary process that

  • reflects the school's values if applied throughout the school
  • is also modeled and followed by teachers, administrators, and staff
  • will fail if perceived as a process for students only

The following process should be under the guidance of a trained facilitator.
Bring your conflicted parties together in a private location, and:

  • Gather information: identify key issues without making accusations
  • Focus on what the issues are, not who did what
  • Avoid accusations, finding fault, calling names

Case study:: conflict resolution

Each party

  • states their position and how it has affected them;
    others listen attentively and respectfully without interruption
  • in turn repeats or describes as best they can
    the other's position to the listener's satisfaction
    (c.f.
    Franklin Covey's fifth habit "Seek first to understand, then to be understood")
  • tries to view the issue from other points of view beside the two conflicting ones
  • brain storms to find the middle ground, a point of balance, creative solutions, etc.
  • volunteers what he or she can do to resolve the conflict or solve the problem

Then:

  • A formal agreement is drawn with agreed-upon actions for both parties;
  • A procedure is identified should disagreement arise
  • Progress is monitored
  • Progress rewarded or celebrated

Each party in collaborative conflict resolution
should feel empowered to speak their mind, feel listened to, and feel they are a critical part of the solution. So also, each is obligated to respect and listen to others, try to understand their point of view; and actively work toward a mutual decision.

If the conflict cannot be resolved in this manner,
mediation by a third, neutral party (as in peer mediation); or
arbitration (enforced resolution by a neutral authority) are options

Education is an excellent setting
to learn problem solving and conflict resolution strategies.

Whether the conflict is a classroom real-life simulation exercise or an on-going emotional experience, learning ways to resolve issues and collaboratively work through responses and solutions will teach you skills that can be applied in other settings. It can help you:

  • accept differences
  • recognize mutual interests
  • improve persuasion skills
  • improve listening skills
  • break the re-active cycle or routine
  • learn to disagree without animosity
  • build confidence in recognizing win-win solutions
  • recognize/admit to/process anger and other emotions
  • solve problems!

Cooperative learning series

Collaborative learning | Group projects | Active Listening |
Conflict resolution | Case study: conflict resolution | Peer mediation |
Tutoring guidelines | Using feedback with tutors


See also:
Conflict Negotiation: Skills Checklist Umbreit, M.S. 1995. Conflict Negotiation: Skills Checklist. St. Paul, MN: Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking, University of Minnesota.
Deutsch, Morton & Coleman, Peter T., Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, April 2000, Jossey-Bass