Teaching conflict resolution skills to secondary school students in Nigeria will help them resolve disputes and disagreements in a peaceful way, reduce incidents of violence and build healthy relationships.
The inability to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence is symptomatic to a young person’s inability to handle confrontation. It is important to be aware of the potential for conflicts and be able to identify a conflict situation and deal with it calmly and constructively.
Resolving conflict situations in constructive ways. Knowledge of conflict resolution enables you in a conflict situation to listen, remain calm, be respectful and treat the other person the way you want to be treated. It helps you to be specific about what is bothering you or what you need without attacking the other person, no name calling, yelling, hitting, accusing or threatening the other person.
You learn to avoid exaggerations, stick with the facts and express your honest feelings. Stay in the present and not bring up other problems you have had in the past. You avoid clamming up because positive results can only be attained with two-way communication.
What is Conflict?
Conflict is part of life we cannot hide from it, we cannot wish it away or pretend that it is not happening. It occurs in families, friendships, schools, workplace, neighborhoods and the society in general.
It occurs when two or more people interact either as individuals or as part of a group. There is always potential for conflict in interactions.
Conflict can be defined as a serious disagreement, argument or tension. A clash between individuals who perceive a threat to their needs, interests or concerns. A clash of interest. An extended struggle, battle, fight or to disagree with someone over opposite opinions.
Causes of Conflicts
Causes of conflicts between students include disagreement between individuals or groups regarding ideas, interests, principles or values, limited resources, communication problems, rivalry between groups, a youth who is impolite to others (such as competing with fellow young people or insulting opinions of others), rude, mean, teasing, jealousy, physical aggression and bullying.
Conflict Management Styles
Students learn that conflict is a natural part of life and that it can be resolved peacefully. They develop awareness of their own unique responses to conflict. The five conflict styles are avoiding (avoiding or withdrawing from a conflict), accommodating (giving in), competing (standing your ground), compromising ( both parties look for common ground when two sides give up some demands meet somewhere in the middle), collaborating. (The Thomas – Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument) (TKI).
They learn that using inappropriate conflict styles can create more problems. It is not healthy to suppress emotions or feelings like anger, frustration and leaving conflicts unresolved. Collaborating is a combination of being assertive and cooperative. Those working together with others to identify a solution that satisfies everyone’s concerns.
You get to learn to manage anger and your behaviour. You can communicate your needs without threatening, frightening or punishing others. Anger management is important to being able to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. If you are too angry or upset, stop and think of a different way you can handle the situation and meet your needs and those of the other people involved. You can be positive and address issues in a non hostile way.
You can identify and name your emotions in order to regulate them and not escalate the conflict. Rather than acting instinctively on your emotions act in a constructive way. Naming your emotions, angry, enraged, frustrated, sad, hopeless, empty, shocked, depressed, ashamed, worried, confused, guilty, lonely, jealous, nervous,
You come to understand that underlying needs drive the behaviour that worries or challenges us. In many cases, challenging behaviour is the symptom of unmet needs. Something hidden but shapes our responses or reactions.
Using ‘I’- Statements
Using effective needs statements will empower and energize people to see a situation and behaviour in new imaginative ways. Use “I” – statements to let others know what you need in a conflict situation. Use “I” – statements instead of “you” – statements. ‘I feel hurt when. .’ instead of ‘you caused me to’. Don’t generalize and avoid words like ‘never,’ ‘always’ for positive outcomes.
This is really listening to the other person and try to see the problem from their perspective. Listening without interrupting. It is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Examples of active listening skills include demonstrating concern, paraphrasing to show understanding, using nonverbal cues which show understanding such as nodding, eye contact and leaning forward. Brief verbal affirmations like ‘l see’ ‘l know’ ‘sure’ ‘Thank you’ or ‘ l understand’.
5 Ways To Manage Your Own Conflicts
1. Calm down. When angry or upset. Cool off, cool down. Focus on the problem not on the personalities. This will enable you appraise the situation objectively and deal with it constructively. 2. Listen carefully. Listen well to understand the perspectives and needs of the other person. 3. Talk about it. Address the real issue. Ask what is the real source of the conflict and deal with it directly.
Take responsibility for your role in the conflict. Think about settling the issues not about winning. Use respectful but assertive l statements. ( I feel hurt when…). Ask non defensive questions to clarify issues. 4. Brainstorm solutions. Search for options together to solve the problem. Choose a solution acceptable to all involved. 5. Learn from it. Think of what you could have done differently and how you will handle the situation in future.
Conflict Resolution Activities
Learning to mediate between others. Peer mediation programmes help youth resolve disputes including conflict that has turned violent. Trained mediators work with their peers to resolve the dispute they cannot resolve themselves. This reinforces cooperative behaviour and teaches effective communication.
Role-play helps youth learn empathy and social skills like cooperation, self-control, teamwork and understanding of different perspectives. Learning also through games, books and creative writing.