Conflict resolution for college students

College is an opportunity to meet new people and expand your professional career. These endeavors are very important to your future, but a part of growing up also involves learning how to deal with conflict. Conflicts are commonplace in our everyday life, whether it be friendships, relationships or even in the workplace. Learning how to deal with conflicts can be difficult at times, but having a rolodex of tips can improve the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here is a review of some basic conflict resolution methods to improve communication skills and the likelihood of positive resolutions.

Clarification and Communication

Every person communicates in different ways and have different experiences that influence their communication style. According to Judith McKay, associate professor of conflict resolution and community studies, how we communicate as people is dependent on our upbringing and the experiences we come into contact with. It’s important to always ask for clarification if an individual doesn’t understand another or use reflective listening skills. To reflectively listen means to be actively listening to what the other is saying instead of only listening to prepare a rebuttal in an argument.

Assumptions are another negative impact to communication that should be avoided. It’s important to grasp that everyone deals with conflict differently. Some people are naturally confrontational and like to deal with situations head on, while others prefer to avoid the situation or accommodate the other person’s wants to avoid the situation entirely. Keeping this in mind and reflecting on these facts while these issues arise is a pivotal step in conflict resolution.

Work on Emotional Intelligence

“Rather than being reactionary to situations, [take] a moment to pause and reflect and work on finding peace within yourself,” said Robin Cooper, associate professor of conflict resolution and ethnic studies. Emotional Intelligence involves recognizing emotions and working towards managing those emotions for the improvement of sound communication skills. It is important to communicate in a calm and respectful manner to control the emotions of yourself and the emotions of others. Another key factor of emotional intelligence is knowing when to walk away. If the conversation is escalating or if the individual is having a bad day, it is important to address the surrounding factors of a situation and handle it accordingly.

Avoid Communication Blockers

When the conversation is at hand, avoid targeted or pointed language. Words like always, never, or emotionally targeted words like hate shouldn’t be used in conflict resolution. This pointed language becomes a game of who’s at fault and only heightens emotions for all those involved. A good suggestion is using assertion statements or the old fashioned “I statements” we learned as children. Making sure that your thoughts and feelings are understood by stating them clearly can prevent situations from escalating or develop further problems.

Evaluate your goals

In most conflicts, being right or wrong in the situation naturally takes precedent. This at times, cannot be avoided but evaluating the true goal of the resolution before the conflict develops can prevent further issues down the line. Ask yourself what is more important: winning the argument or salvaging and improving the relationship? Once an individual has made that decision, it makes the conversations flow much better.

Recognize conflict is natural

Conflicts might be uncomfortable to run into in life but they are only a chance to develop professionally and personally. It’s natural for people to disagree on issues which is why communication in any form of relationship is a key component. Constructive conflicts, which can improve understanding or improve professional skills are pivotal in development as a person and college is the perfect breeding ground for this type of growth. As long as the conflict and the parties involved are determined to solve the problem, it can only improve the skills and understanding of the individuals for further communication.

Students can visit for additional information on conflict resolution with user friendly articles and advisory tips. Students with conflicts on or off campus are encouraged to contact Henderson Student Counseling at (954)-262-7050  or Student Mediation Services at (954) 262-7196 for advice or help with mediation.

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