By Kyra

Welcome to the second post of our new series, High School Survival Guide. Created by teen blogger and media intern, Kyra, the series candidly presents perspective and advice for getting through some of high school’s toughest stressors.

Conflict Management Is a Skill

In all parts of life there are problems. These usually emerge as some kind of conflict or hiccup in a plan or with a specific person or situation that just pushes your buttons. There’s no avoiding conflict, unfortunately. The only things we can do are deal with it head-on and learn from everything that seems to be going wrong. This is where conflict management becomes so important. It’s a helpful but lost skill, especially in high school. Think of a conflict in your life; I’m sure you can! Whether your situation has lasted two days or two years, I’m here to assist you with the disputes in your life. I can’t do it all for you, but I’ll do my best! So follow these 6 steps on how to resolve conflicts between two people and you can’t go wrong.

Six Steps to Perfecting Conflict Management

    1. Identify the problem.
    2. This is probably the most important step. Many conflicts begin with people being uncomfortable or angry and not being clear about why they’re mad. Often, these things will escalate to the point that the conflict isn’t centralized around what started it. Both people will find more things wrong with the other person’s actions just to make the point that they were right in the first place. The conflict gets way bigger than it was ever meant to be, all because one or both parties didn’t keep the argument focused on the original problem. Identify the problem, and your conflict will become less complicated and stay that way.

    3. Present a specific solution.
    4. Naturally, being accused of a problem is stressful and may make the person accused angry, especially if the wrongdoing was an accident. If you go in understanding how to fix the problem, that takes away a lot of the angst of a big argument. When a solution is offered, all parties involved have a clearer idea of what the original problem was and can work together to fix anything that’s going on. Having a solution will also let you organize your thoughts before you bring them to the table. It can also help the other side understand you and will give you a chance to understand them. The last thing you want is for anything to blow up, so make sure to defuse the situation and keep it mature.

    5. Talk to the other person directly. Listen to what they have to say.
    6. Don’t dance around the problem. When you go to the person with whom you’re in conflict, bring up (1) the situation, (2) why it’s a problem, and (3) a solution. If you’re not straight up, it can get confusing and miscommunication can sneak in. This will escalate the problem. Another no-no is sending someone else to talk about the problem. If you’re the one with the problem, you need to deal with it. This way you can explain exactly what you’re feeling and how you want to deal with it, again avoiding miscommunication. You will also be able to handle the situation in a way that no one else can, bringing your style of communication to the table. You can deal with the dispute in a way that works for both parties, which a third person could not do.

    7. Take responsibility.
    8. Problems are not one-sided. Chances are there’s something you could have done better to handle the conflict or situation. It’s best to let the other person know that you understand that. This will make her or him feel less attacked and also show them that you are working to be better, as well. Take responsibility for everything you have done. You don’t have to assume all responsibility if it doesn’t belong to you (please don’t!), and also don’t pin all responsibility on the other person. This is another reason why you need to deal with the problem yourself. Only you know what problem you have and what problems you may have caused in the situation. Make sure to let the other person know that you want to be an active part of the solution, and chances are they’ll be more likely to work with you, as well.

    9. Hold yourself and the other person to the solution.
    10. You came to a solution for a reason, now use it! You can’t control how the other person responds, but you can definitely encourage them to work with you to create a better environment. If the solution isn’t working or isn’t possible to stick to, it’s okay to go back to the drawing board. The point is to solve the problem in a way that works for everyone, so if it doesn’t work, it is not the right solution. Don’t get discouraged! A good relationship is worth working on.

    11. Know what makes you tick and what you need to avoid conflict.
    12. Now you know how to deal with conflicts, but the key is to avoid them when you can. If a certain situation is hard for you to deal with, ask yourself if you can avoid it. If another person is agitating the conflict, try to talk to them about how to work together and be around each other effectively. They’ll be more open to your ideas if you bring the opportunity directly to them. Not all problems can be avoided, but now you have insight into dealing with conflict. Good luck!

    Learning to Manage Conflict Is Important to Your Future

    According to the World Economic Forum’s top 10 skills you need to thrive, the skills that are needed in everyday life will change over the next 3 years. Due to transformations in technology and other STEM fields, the top skills in demand are shifting. Among the top 10 needed skills are complex problem solving and emotional intelligence, both of which easily relate to conflict resolution. By 2020, these skills will be even more valuable than they are today.

    Work to find experience and expertise in these areas and you’ll be on your way to being prepared for the life you want!

    More About This Series

    High school is a scary, brand new experience, so be sure to check back for the rest of my series, which includes, but is not limited to —

    • What to expect in your first few weeks
    • How to overcome procrastination, and
    • What to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed

    I hope this post has helped and that now you’ll become an expert problem-solver! Let me know how it works out for you and if you have more steps that help with the conflict management process. If you have questions, comments, or requests for future posts, please let me know in the “Leave a Reply” section below! Thank you and good luck!