Every person will perceive conflict differently. Some people try to avoid conflict, others seem to seek it out. Some see it as debilitating and others view conflict as healthy and necessary. When handled effectively, conflict can challenge ideas, spur change and progress, inspire growth, improve communication, and preserve future relationships.

Conflict is counter-productive when…

  • It is avoided and ignored

  • It negatively affects morale and efficiency

  • It is expressed as a personal attack

  • It creates a hostile living or learning environment

  • It shuts down the lines of communication between people

  • It creates an environment where others do not feel safe and respected to share their thoughts, needs and perspectives

  • It causes resentment, anger, frustration, withdrawal and/or violence

  • Behaviors and actions don't change after a conflict is supposedly resolved

When You Hear of a Conflict

  • Follow-up on any concerns or issues that come to your attention

  • Let residents know that conflict is normal and in most cases can be resolved

  • Encourage them to voice their concern as often times the conflict is due to the other person not knowing they’re causing issues to arise

  • Share options

    • Work it out amongst themselves (this is the desired outcome)
    • Mediate with an RA
    • Speak with the ADRL

 Pre Mediation

  • Talk with all parties involved

  • Make sure both parties are motivated to resolve the issue

  • Gather as much information as possible

  • Determine the current “balance of power” amongst all involved to help determine what role you’ll need to play during the mediation

  • Discuss the situation with your ADRL

  • Don’t make any promises regarding the outcome of the mediation

  • Find a neutral space to conduct the mediation where everyone will feel empowered

  • Set a time  that is convenient for everyone

During Mediation

  • Explain that your role as mediator is to facilitate, clarify and referee if needed

  • Let them do most of the work and step in only where necessary

  • Have both students set goals for the mediation

  • Be task oriented and stick to the topic. Take notes - this allows you to reference back to what’s said and ensure that all issues have been covered.

    • Don’t be afraid to table a topic and come back to it if conversation stalls
  • Summarize and clarify what you’ve heard

  • Ask questions to help guide both parties toward the resolution you’re hearing

    • What do you think will happen if you don't try to solve this issue?
    • Is there anything else that you would like to add?
    • Is there anything you want him/her to know?
    • How did you feel about that?
    • What would you like to see happen now?
    • What do you think you can do to solve this issue?
    • What could you do next time to avoid this issue?

  • Work to find mutually agreed upon action steps that will be taken to resolve the conflict

    • Set Ground Rules

    • Keep it neutral  - do not take sides

    • No interruptions

    • Everyone involved has equal rights to be heard and speak freely

    • Set aside your desire to win  as mediations should be mutually beneficial

    • Avoid playing the blame game - encourage the use of “I” messages

    • Stick to specifics instead of generalizations or blanket remarks

    • Only talk about possible action changes instead of making personal attacks

Post Mediation

  • Follow up with all parties involved*

  • Put all mutually agreed to outcomes in writing and send to all parties involved

  • Talk to your ADRL about the mediation process

  • If conflict remains, refer to the ADRL

*Don’t be discouraged if the mediation isn’t able to resolve every issue right away.  Sometimes it takes multiple mediation sessions to come to an agreed upon outcome.  However, sometimes things may work for awhile before becoming an issue again.  It’s okay if you  have to revisit the situation again in the future. 

“I” Messages

Most messages we send to others regarding behavior are very strongly directed at them and what they’re doing “wrong.”  Most of the time these messages don’t resolve the issue, and will often make matters worse by causing the other person to feel attacked or become more resistant to changing their behavior.  The use of “I” messages is a way to let someone know that you don’t approve of their behavior while getting them to consider the effects their decisions are having on others.  This also leaves them in a power position to change their behavior for the right reasons and not just because someone told them to do so.

“I” messages consists of three parts:

1. The specific behavior

2. The resulting feeling you experienced

3. The tangible effect on you

For example: “When you play your music that loud, I feel upset because I can’t study very well when there’s a lot of noise.”

                                                           Adapted from Dr. Thomas Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Training, 1971.