Teens can be impulsive, emotional, and passionate at times. On the one hand, having strong feelings about a topic can drive passion, advocacy, and a willingness to work hard. On the other hand, strong feelings can also lead to conflicts with others, especially with friends or peers who have different views. Sadly, for some teens who don’t know how to resolve a conflict, conflicts with others can lead to arguments, fighting, and breaks in relationships. At other times it can lead to consequences with parents and teachers, frequent problems with peers, and perhaps even physical fighting.
This article will provide seven essential steps to resolve a conflict. Parents might want to know this and pass it on to their teens, while teens may want to know this to use with peers whom they have arguments with. Keep in mind that the steps below are simple but they may not always be easy. However, these steps may be able to support cooperation, collaboration, and friendship among teens. These steps might also help teens avoid the consequences that can arise out of conflict.
The 7 Steps to Resolve a Conflict
If a teen has a fight with a friend, it can be devastating. Although for adults, arguments with others may not be as earth-shattering, the social experience for teens is central to their lives. When a teen has an argument with someone they were friends with just days before, it can feel emotionally distressing for them. In order to ease the effect of having a conflict with a peer, teens might follow the following steps to resolve a conflict.
Step 1: Agree to talk and establish ground rules for the discussion
There won’t be any resolution if those involved don’t agree to talk. This needs to be the first step. However, by establishing ground rules then the conversation has a chance of being productive. Also, having ground rules can help create emotional safety, enabling each person to feel comfortable sharing, especially if the discussion is a difficult one. Examples of ground rules might be:
- no interrupting
- staying respectful
- no yelling
- no cursing
- no insults
Agreeing to talk with guidelines that support safety is the start to finding a resolution to a conflict.
Step 2: Take turns in explaining your feelings and thoughts about the situation
Once you’ve established the ground rules, then you can begin talking about what happened. It is best to have one person share their point of view, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Then, the other person(s) involved can do the same. It is important that each person continue to follow the guidelines discussed and agreed upon because it is here where emotions might still be intense. Also, one person might want to interrupt the other. Yet, following the ground rules established together can make it easier for each person to share their unique point of view without getting into an argument. If each person can explain their position while staying calm and respectful, it will support finding a resolution.
Step 3: Identify the conflict
Although this sounds simple, identifying the conflict will facilitate finding a solution. This step can get easily overlooked, but it is an important part of the process. After each person has taken turns, articulate what you are arguing about. In fact, it would be worthwhile to take a few minutes to state what the argument is in a couple of sentences. Many teens can get caught up in their emotions. This is particularly true with arguments, and they may lose sight of what they are arguing about. Stating the conflict in simple terms keeps everyone focused on the problem. You might even state the conflict aloud and get everyone’s consent before proceeding.
Step 4: Take turns in exploring options to resolve the conflict
In this step, everyone brainstorms. You’re trying to think of ways that might resolve the conflict. You might have ideas, thoughts, or possibilities for resolving the conflict, some of which might require compromise. However, it’s not yet time to agree on a solution. For now, stay open to possibilities. At this stage, simply have each person clarify what they would like to see happen. This is a pivotal step in the process. Make sure that each person remains open to new ideas and stays respectful of others involved.
Step 5: Agree on a solution
After brainstorming, it’s time to find an agreement. First, discuss which idea might make the most sense given the circumstances. Or you might identify the solution that everyone involved can agree upon. At this stage, review all the possibilities and then come to an agreement of the solution.
Step 6: State the solution
Once you’ve made an agreement, state the solution aloud. Just like you did when identifying the problem, stating the solution aloud can help everyone remember what came of this discussion.
Step 7: Decide when to evaluate the solution
Before you end the discussion, decide on whether you will need to reconvene. You may want to do this to evaluate whether the solution is working or if it needs some improvements. Depending upon the circumstances, you may need to revisit this discussion again in the future to make changes to what you agreed upon. Before everyone leaves, decide upon a time in which you will talk again to discuss how this particular solution is working out for each of you.
These are steps that your teen can use to resolve a conflict. They can be incredibly effective and can be used among parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, and others to help teens work together. As mentioned above, once teens themselves learn these seven steps they can use them on their own to resolve a conflict when one arises.
Resolving Conflicts Helps Grow Communication Skills
Keep in mind that the conflict resolution process above is also a great way to learn communication skills. These are skills that teens will need as they progress into adulthood. However, these skills are necessary now as they learn about relationships and long-term friendships. Although the internet, social media, and texting might be an easy way to get out of talking openly, especially when there is conflict, the steps above can help a teen learn how to communicate effectively and honestly.