Seven Steps to Conflict Resolution


It’s not if, it’s when. Conflict happens to all of us. The key is what to do with the conflict once it happens. The right steps could mean the difference between a learning experience and a scarring experience.

As I prepare the Resident Advisor Training for September, I found my favourite conflict resolution guide, and I thought I would share. This comes from Nesseibeh (2003) and was passed on to me by my colleague at work. This can work as a part of a one on one guide to conflict resolution, or can be used as a tool in mediated discussion.

So here are the seven steps to resolving a conflict:

1) Define the problem in terms of needs – Ask what I/you/we need; what needs are not being met.

2) Agree on a working definition of the problem – Ask how others see the problem, agree on what the actual problem is in terms of needs

3) Brainstorm possibile solutions – list as many ideas as possible, no matter how crazy they may seem. (This can actually cause those in conflict to relax and enjoy the ridiculousness of each others ideas)

4) Evaluate solutions – Discuss why they may or may not work; how will they meet needs

5) Choose possible solution – Collectively agree on a solution to try

6) Impliment solution – Plan how you are going to impliment the selected solution; do it!

7) Evaluate implimentation – Get together and discuss how/if it is working, what could be done differently etc.

For my RA training I hope to get the leaders into groups and have them role play this mediated discussion. Two people could be in conflict about a noise complaint and the mediator practices going through these steps. When the steps are verbalized they become more natural and understandable. The more it’s practiced, the easier it will be for the leaders to use these steps in an actual conflict.

This has been proven helpful in the standard noise violations, dirty dishes, dirty rooms and more. It also has helped more complicated issues involving needs in a relationship.

Everyone has been created differently, and when you get a bunch of different people together there can be tension. But let’s save the fist fights, facebook slander, and name calling for another day, and work on practicing steps towards healthy communication instead!

Did you find this helpful? Do you know any different ideas? Share your comments below!


About campusperspective

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was curious and passionate about a whole hosts of topics and interests. How would I combine everything I loved to do in one job? Then I stumbled into a career in higher education. Student Services pieced together my curiosity, creativity, passion for people, and thirst to learn. As I continue working in this exciting field I hope to share some questions, insights, and lessons learned. Enjoy! :)

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