Life Skills Development/Unit Three/Conflict Resolution and Anger Management/Lesson

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What is Conflict?

Is this what we think of for a conflict?

Conflict may be defined as:

  1. An open clash between two opposing groups (or individuals).
  2. Opposition between two simultaneous but incompatible feelings.
  3. A hostile meeting of opposing military forces in the course of a war.
  4. A state of opposition between persons or ideas or interests.
  5. An incompatibility of dates or events,
  6. Opposition in a work of drama or fiction between characters or forces (especially an opposition that motivates the development of the plot).
  7. A disagreement or argument about something important.

Therefore, conflict can be summarised as the opposition or perceived opposition of needs, values, wishes or perceptions resulting in stress or tension. It is any situation where incompatible activities, feelings or intentions occur together.

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Self Assessment

QUESTION: If conflict involves two opposing forces or persons, then why do I need to learn about conflict and conflict resolution?

ANSWER: Because no man is an island, and in your daily activities you will encounter other persons and some of them will activate some or all of your triggers.

Moreover as reflected in this quote: 'A man's own self is his friend. A man's own self is his foe.' - Bhagavad-Gita

You may have conflicts within your own self, especially when you are thinking about doing an action that you know is wrong or not suited for the occasion.

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  1. Make a list of people with whom you have conflict and ways in which you alleviated this conflict.
  2. Share individual personal method of managing and resolving conflict with a trusted friend and practise the Gift of Listening to learn their methods.
  3. You should also participate in role plays demonstrating the different methods of conflict resolution (including anger management) with this trusted friend.
  4. Attempt to analyse the following scenarios:-
Permission to go our from parent
Taking criticism from boss
Passive anger in a relationship
Inability to let go of a love relationship
Responding to violence in home or from friend or fellow worker or stranger

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Style Characteristic Behaviour User Justification
Avoidance Non confrontational. Ignores or passes over issues. Denies issues are a problem Differences too minor or too great to resolve. Attempts might damage relationships or create even greater problems.
Accommodating Agreeable, non-assertive behaviour. Cooperative even at the expense of personal goals Not worth risking damage to relationships or general disharmony.
Win/Lose Confrontational, assertive and aggressive. Must win at any cost. Survival of the fittest. Must prove superiority. Most ethically or professionally correct.
Compromising Import all parties achieve basic goals and maintain good relationships. Aggressive but cooperative No one person or idea is perfect. There is more than one good way to do anything. You must give to get.
Problem solving Needs of both parties are legitimate and important. High respect for mutual support. Assertive and cooperative. When parties will openly discuss issues, a mutually beneficial solution can be found without anyone making a major concession.

Brainstorm ways conflicts can be more effectively resolved.

THERE ARE 5 BASIC APPROACHES TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION. They can be summarised as follows. Indicate the one you are most likely to use with followers with an F, your peers with a P, and with your supervisor an S.

Types of Conflicts

Before we can explore the best ways to resolve a conflict, it is necessary to identify what type of conflict it is, thereby enabling us to utilise the best option to resolve the conflict.


Caused by:

  • A lack of information
  • Misinformation
  • Differing views on what is relevant
  • Different interpretations of data
  • Different assessment procedures


Caused by:

  • Strong emotions
  • Misperceptions or Stereotypes
  • Poor communication
  • Miscommunication
  • Repetitive negative behaviour


Caused by:

  • Different criteria for evaluating ideas or behaviour.
  • Different valued goals.
  • Different ways of life, ideology and religion.


Caused by

  • Destructive patterns of behaviour or interaction.
  • Unequal power, control, ownership, distribution of resources.
  • Geographical, physical or environmental factors that hinder cooperation.
  • Time constraints.


Caused by:

  • A lack of information
  • Misinformation
  • Differing views on what is relevant
  • Different interpretations of data
  • Different assessment procedures

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1. For each of the above types of conflict, write a brief summary (2-3 lines) of an incident that matched the type of conflict and indicate how you resolved it. Keep this list close to you as we continue onwards to the method of conflict resolution.

Methods for Positive Conflict Resolution

  • Share negatives sentiments only in person with the person.
    • E-mails, answering machine messages, and notes are too impersonal for the delicate nature of negative words. What feels like a bomb on paper may feel like a feather when delivered in person.
  • Create an effective atmosphere summarized.
    • Creating an effective atmosphere is a very important step in the conflict resolution process. It is more likely for mutual agreements to be reached when atmosphere is given careful consideration. When thinking about atmosphere, remember these ideas: Personal preparation; timing; location; opening statements.
  • Use “I understand …..” several times as you speak.
    • This phrase will support your goals when the tension is high and you need to find common ground to form compromises or agreements with the other party.
  • Make requests when you are angry.
    • It is often much more useful to make a request than to share your anger. For example, if the babysitter is driving you crazy by leaving dirty dishes in the sink, it is better to make a request of them than to let your anger leak out in other ways such as by becoming more distant.
  • Mirroring techniques- repeat the exact same words. “What I hear you saying is that …
    • This mirroring technique can keep both the speaker and the listener 'centred' in a difficult conversation, especially when the attitude of the person doing the mirroring is to gain understanding of a different point of view.
  • Understand that you are responsible for your feelings “I feel angry when you…..
    • Notice when 'blame shifting' begins to leak into your speech. "I feel angry when you are twenty minutes late and you don't call me" is much better than, "You make me so mad by being late."
    • Clarify perceptions. Clarify individual perceptions involved in the conflict.
      • Sort the parts of the conflict; ask what it is about.
      • Avoid ghost conflicts- get to the heart of the matter and avoid side issues.
      • Clarify what, if any, values are involved.
      • Recognise that the parties involved need each other to be most effective.
    • Additionally, clarify your perceptions of the other party.
      • Avoid stereotyping.
      • Listen carefully.
      • Recognise the other’s needs and values.
      • Empathise- ask why they feel the way they do.
      • Clear up misconceptions you may have of them.
  • Listen to both sides (in your mind or in reality) in order to arrive at a creative compromise.
    • If you can listen and respond in this way you will bring peace and solutions to the conflict more quickly. For example, in response to an employee's raise request, you might say, "On the one hand I understand that you really need the raise, and on the other hand I represent the company, whose funds are very scarce at this time. Is there a way that I can work on your compensation package that does not involve cash?" Here, the mediator's point of view can look for the creative compromise that takes into account the limits and the needs of both parties.
  • Practice controlling one’s emotions in little ways, so that this becomes a habit.
    • You could view maintaining self-control in a tense, angry conversation as an athletic feat. You could also view developing this skill as similar to working out at the gym with weights - the more that you use your self-control muscle the bigger it will grow and the easier it will be to remain calm when tension is great.
  • Try joint integrative reframing: try and see the conflict as the other sees it (empathic thinking), as an integrative win-win solution.
    • When conflicts are being approached as unavoidable win-lose situations, it is often useful to ask whether it is possible to redefine the situation so that integrative (or win-win) solutions can be obtained. This is especially important when the original problem definition leaves no acceptable alternatives for the opponent. Although integrative reframing is not always possible, often it is possible to reframe at least part of the conflict in this way.
  • Make mutual benefit agreements.
    • Mutual – Benefit Agreements should give you lasting solutions to specific conflicts.
    • Instead of demands, focus on developing agreements and find shared goals and needs.
    • Build on “doable” things by working on the smaller stepping-stone solutions.
    • Pay attention to the needs of the other person in addition to your own interests.
    • Recognise the “givens”- basic things that cannot be altered or compromised.
    • Clarify exactly what is expected of you in the agreement- your individual responsibilities.
    • Keep the conflict partnership processes going by using and sharing these skills with others.
  • Develop “Doables”- Stepping stones to action.
    • Doables are specific actions that have a good chance at being successful.

Doables are:

    • The ideas that have the best chance at success.
    • Steps that never promote unfair advantages of any side.
    • Found on shared input and information from all parties.
    • Trust builders- they add confidence in working together.
    • Actions that meet shared needs.
  • Mirror imaging: try to see yourself the way that others see you, and make appropriate changes
    • Mirror imaging is a strategy which parties can use to assess the reasonableness of their behaviour. It asks the parties to look at themselves the way others see them and make appropriate changes if they do not like what they see. Often if disputants will look at themselves honestly, they will sometimes notice that they are doing the same kinds of things – name calling, deception, and rumour spreading, for example--that they fault their opponents for doing. Once this is understood, parties can change their behaviour to appear more reasonable.
  • Build shared positive power.
    • Power is made up of people’s outlooks, ideas, convictions, and actions. A positive view of power enables people to be most effective. A negative outlook on power proves disempowering.
    • Instead of “power with” it encourages “power over”. Positive power promotes building together and strengthening partnership. This can encourage each other to use shared positive power.
  • Generate Options.
    • Beware of preconceived answers.
    • Look for common threads. Make sure options are workable for all parties involved.
    • Set aside disagreements and focus on options that seem most workable.
    • Avoid spin-off conflicts by bypassing options that won’t work for all involved.

In generating options:

    • Ask first for the conflict partner’s option- listen and learn.
    • Identify key options.
    • When looking at options, don’t let past experiences cloud present perceptions and decisions.
  • Focus on individual and shared needs.
    • Expand on shared needs. Realise that you need one another in order to successfully resolve conflicts. Be concerned about meeting other needs as well as your own. When you take the time to look, you will recognise that individuals often share needs in common.
  • Look to the future, and then learn from the past.
    • Don’t dwell on negative past conflicts, or you won’t be able to deal positively in the present or the future. Try to understand what happened in the past, and avoid repeating the same mistakes over. Don’t get stuck in a rut; learn from past conflicts and be forgiving. Let others know” I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at what you did.”

Now that you are equipped you with more than enough information to resolve your conflicts positively, it’s time for another activity.

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1. Gather a group of persons and do the following:

a. Review the summaries written for the previous activity and enact them
i. In the manner that was previously resolved.
ii. In accordance to the methods outlined above.
b. Re-write new summaries of the conflict situations clearly stating how they should have been resolved and any apologies or other necessary mending/relationship saving activities that need to be taken.

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Self Assessment

QUESTION: What to do when all the methods don’t seem to be helping?

ANSWER: Call a mediator.

Who is a mediator?

Peer Mediation

A Mediator is:

  1. One that reconciles differences between disputants.
  2. Someone who acts as an intermediate agent in a transaction or helps to resolve differences (conflicts)
  3. A negotiator who acts as a link between parties

Therefore a mediator is a neutral person, who has no biases/favourites between the arguing parties and therefore would be able to give unbiased neutral advice that is in the best interest of all persons involved. They accomplish this task through a process called Mediation.

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Self Assessment

QUESTION: What is mediation?

ANSWER: Mediation is a voluntary process in which the participants are assisted by an impartial person, the mediator, to systematically isolate disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives, and try to reach a consensual outcome which will accommodate the parties’ needs. Agreements which are freely reached rarely break down.

Mediation has a high success rate. Even when the parties are unable to reach a settlement which suits them, they find mediation an empowering and healing process. Successful mediations offer businesses the opportunity to concentrate on being more successful; and help individuals retain valuable relationships. The real costs of conflict can be minimised.

The confidentiality of the mediation process encourages people to be open and frank about the issues between them.

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Self Assessment

QUESTION: What types of issues can be mediated?

ANSWER: Mediation has proven to be an effective process for dealing with disputed around:

  • Employment
  • Commercial Issues
  • Community Issues
  • Environmental Issues
  • Family Issues
  • Farming
  • Sport
  • Interpersonal Issues
    • And many others

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Self Assessment

QUESTION: Can I act as a mediator for my peers?

ANSWER: Yes you can. This can be facilitated through the process of Peer Mediation.

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Self Assessment

QUESTION: What is Peer Mediation?

ANSWER: Peer mediation is both a program and a process where persons of the same age-group facilitate resolving disputes between two people or small groups. This process has proven effective around the world, changing the way persons understand and resolve conflict in their lives. Changes include improved self-esteem, listening and critical thinking skills, and climate for learning, living and working, as well as a reduced need for disciplinary actions and fewer fights. These skills are transferable outside of the home and into the wider society.

The process is voluntary for both sides; peer mediators do not "make decisions" but rather work towards a win-win resolution for both sides in order to avoid further trouble. Administrators in charge of discipline incorporate conflict resolution into their strategies and processes.

Types of problems include:

More serious problems require professional referral and are not appropriate for peer mediation. These include: sexual abuse, assault, suicide, drug use, weapon possession, and those that involve legal problems.

Costs include materials, a dedicated location/facility for mediation and training, staff support and office space, rewards.

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Self Assessment

QUESTION: What are the mediation steps?

ANSWER: The goal is to move from mutual blame toward a solution acceptable to all parties. This can be accomplished by the following.


  • Disputants fill out a pre-session questionnaire establishing ground rules, committing to solve the problem, tell the truth, and listen respectfully and without interrupting.
  • Disputants meet with mediators to see if ‘chemistry’ is right and ensure there are no conflicts of interest.


  • The Mediator uses listening and communication skills to help fellow students resolve conflict and disagreements before they escalate and lose power over the situation.
  • The Mediator solicits questions and clarifications on the process before beginning.



  • The Mediator meets with disputants and explains exceptions to confidentiality at the beginning of the mediation and asks if they wish to continue.
  • The Mediator explains steps of the mediation process to the disputants.


  • Introduce themselves.
  • Each in turn tells their story to the mediator focusing on issues, not on who did what, while the other concentrates on listening without interrupting.
  • Parties change roles: Each repeats the other's story to their satisfaction to demonstrate they understand the other's position (not that they necessarily agree with it).


  • Summarize the facts and feelings of both sides for verification and agreement on the issues; leads a discussion of the issues and acknowledges the difficulty in dealing with its emotional baggage.
  • Ask both parties if any solutions have come to mind, or begins a brain-storming session without judgment.
    • All suggestions noted and acknowledged.
  • Lead a discussion of the solutions checking off only the solution(s) that both parties can agree to.


  • Determine implications of solutions in selecting the best possible outcome.
  • Select the best alternative.


  • Verify the verbal agreement with all parties, ensuring that no one is reluctant or afraid to speak out or dissent.
  • Write a memo of understanding/contract in parties' own words.

Co-mediators and disputants:

  • Sign contract.
  • Develop a process for follow up and verify that all will be committed and monitor this process.

Co-mediators thank each person for their contribution to the process, and for letting the mediation service help them.

Checklists of Performance Task

RUBRIC of performance criteria V. Well Done Well Done OK Not Ok- Will redo by ….
1. I have written down my definition of anger
2. I have written down my “hot balloons”/ triggers
3. I have demonstrated the conflict resolution steps effectively in role play
4. I have utilized the conflict resolution steps when faced with difficulties
2. Make a list of people with whom they have conflict and ways in which to alleviate this conflict

RUBRIC of performance criteria V. Well Done Well Done OK Not Ok- Will redo by ….
1. I made a list of people with who have conflict
2. I listed ways these conflicts will be resolved
3. Reflections on personal method of managing and resolving conflict

RUBRIC of performance criteria V. Well Done Well Done OK Not Ok- Will redo by ….
1. I discussed my personal methods of managing conflict
2. I discussed my personal methods of resolving conflict
4. These groups should also participate in role-plays demonstrating the different methods of conflict resolution (including anger management)

RUBRIC of performance criteria V. Well Done Well Done OK Not Ok- Will redo by ….
1. I demonstrated at least one way in which conflict could be resolved

This is unfortunately the end of Conflict Resolution. Please continue onwards to Anger Management.

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