Helping College Students Transform Conflict

Many students enter their college years eager to expand their intellectual horizons, establish close-knit friendships, and experience new opportunities for self-growth and personal development. Caught up in the whirlwind of endless possibilities, they may not realize the challenges that often accompany those new experiences.

One of these core challenges is a college student’s ability to handle conflict productively. Whether it’s addressing a different style of living with roommates, opposing ideas with a member of faculty, or contention with family members over a future career path, students are bound to find themselves in situations that require them to remain levelheaded and transform conflict into resolution.

Transforming conflict is a crucial skill that all college students should have in their back pockets. Teaching conflict management skills is the best way to help students view different standpoints as opportunities for growth and develop problem-solving techniques.

How To Go About Transforming Conflict

It’s human nature to “react” rather than “respond” to conflict. When dealing with conflict, the body is prone to various psychological and physiological symptoms that can hinder the ability to practice mindful communication. From heightened fear and anxiety to racing thoughts and even feeling faint, these uncomfortable sensations can lead students to react without fully thinking through the result.  But when schools prioritize teaching conflict resolution for students, they’re preparing students to become more resilient both in college and beyond.

Successful school-based approaches to transforming conflict involve teaching students mindful thinking, active listening, and breathing techniques. Let’s further explore the why and how behind a few of the most effective ways to facilitate conflict resolution for students.

Establish a New Mindset

The approach to conflict that individuals develop during their early childhood remains with them as they transition into adulthood. Often a student’s reaction mirrors what they would see from a parent or caregiver.

Personal growth in college heavily relies on a student’s ability to view matters from different perspectives. This may be difficult at first, especially if it differs from what a student is used to in their home environment.

Encouraging them to shift their mindset from a fixed one to a mindset focused on growth can help lead the transformation. Understanding the reasoning behind opposing viewpoints or beliefs can help bridge the gap within conflict and encourage students to engage in productive conversations rather than ineffective standoffs.

Training modules and exercises in student orientations and classroom curriculums support self-growth and inspire the creation of a new and positive mindset. Challenging students to change their inner dialogues, determine their strengths and weaknesses, and set attainable goals gives them the tools needed for transforming conflict.

Practice Active Listening

Mindful communication is key to conflict resolution. The capacity to truly listen and respond accordingly significantly impacts a student’s ability to de-escalate a situation.

Active listening goes beyond verbal communication. It encompasses other areas, such as maintaining eye contact and using proper body language or posture. Students should look into the speaker’s eyes or in their general direction – this signifies that the person speaking has the listener’s attention and that the information they’re sharing is actively received.

A person’s posture might seem minute in the grand scheme of things, but the unspoken word can indicate a lot about a person’s willingness to interact with others. Leaning forward or minimizing the physical distance between parties shows genuine interest and concern. Meanwhile, crossed legs and folded arms are often synonymous with being closed off or disinterested.

Students can significantly benefit when teachers shine a spotlight on mindful communication and conflict management skills within the classroom. Promoting group discussions and healthy debates allows students to identify and counter opposing thoughts in a controlled environment. They can witness firsthand the power of actively listening to their peers and visualize the impact of various non-verbal cues. Active listening can improve students’ abilities to interact with others, even those they don’t agree with, in a productive and considerate manner.

Clarify Key Points

To successfully resolve conflict, students must ensure they correctly understand the issue in question. A practical and easy way to accomplish this is through paraphrasing. Repeating key points back to the speaker can help clarify any miscommunication and reinforce the concept of active listening. Using check-in phrases like, “Let me see if I understood you correctly,” creates the opportunity to open the dialogue and discuss opposing issues calmly.

Deploy Intentional Breathing

Conflict can result in the release of the body’s natural fight-or-flight response. Parasympathetic breathing can combat the intensity of these feelings. Controlled, deep breaths can lower the body’s fight-or-flight response and allow an individual to return to baseline. Students will then be able to clearly communicate any key issues they’d like to address and convey them calmly and collectedly.

Identify Solutions From Within

On-campus mental and emotional wellness programs can assist students in managing stress, dealing with conflict, and building a positive sense of self-worth. Incorporating activities such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness into curriculums can foster the skills students need to promote self-awareness and compassion for others. When dealing with conflict, students can look within and draw from these core skills to identify a solution.

Promote Conflict Management Skills on Campus and Beyond

Conflict is an inevitable part of life, and students must have the necessary skills and resources to navigate it effectively. Whether it’s establishing a new mindset, practicing active listening, or deploying intentional breathing techniques, there are many ways to go about transforming conflict.

Continuously implementing strategies to minimize the difficulties of handling conflict can be advantageous for students throughout their college experience and their life in the outside world. U-Thrive Educational Services’ diverse curriculum empowers students to tackle life’s challenges, including proper and productive communication.

Contact U-Thrive Educational Services today to learn more about helping students approach conflict resolution in a healthy and constructive manner.

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