Published: April 8, 2019

two students have a conversation at a tableConflict happens, and is normal in your student’s relationships —whether it’s with a friend, roommate or family member. Conflict can be uncomfortable and challenging for many of us, but there are ways to have difficult conversations and navigate disagreements with others. Here are some tips to share with your student for stopping conflict before it starts.

Learn about conflict styles

Encourage your student to reflect on what they do when they have a disagreement with someone. Do they tend to ignore the problem or avoid the person? Do they confront the person right away, or look for compromise?

Everyone has a different way of approaching conflict, and there is no correct approach—each has its own benefits and drawbacks. It is important for your student to recognize how they personally deal with conflict, and how their style could clash with someone else’s.

Once your student understands how they handle conflict, they can take steps to prevent it and work more effectively with others when it does arise. If your student is not sure what their conflict style is, share this quiz with them to help them learn more.

Form connections with others

The strength of your student’s relationship with others can help with preventing conflict. When we have a strong connection with someone, it can be easier to focus on the problem and work together to find a solution rather than assuming the other person is at fault.

Sharing with others allows us to develop empathy and resolve disagreements peacefully when conflict arises. For more on helping your student form connections with others, review these tips for supporting students in stronger relationships.

Communicate effectively

When your student disagrees with someone, they may find that communicating can become tough. During a difficult conversation, we can get caught up in our own emotions rather than focusing on the problem at hand. Communicating clearly can help prevent a minor disagreement from becoming something bigger than it needs to be.

If your student is experiencing conflict, share these tips with the on communicating effectively:

  • Allow the other person to share their point of view without interruption and avoid judgement.
  • Listen as the other person shares their point of view, instead of forming a response to what they are saying.
  • Be mindful of body language.
  • When the other person is finished speaking, ask clarifying questions and summarize what was said. This helps to understand the situation and lets the other person know they are being heard.
  • When your student is sharing their point of view, encourage them to speak from their perspective and avoid making assumptions.
  • Your student should share their needs and avoid assigning blame or shame to the other person. If we resort to blaming, it can force others to become defensive and limit the ability to listen actively.
  • Avoid bringing up past issues, making personal attacks and allowing emotions to dictate the conversation.

Reach out for help

If your student is struggling with conflict, encourage them to reach out for help. Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution offers free conflict support services including one-on-one conflict coaching, mediation and facilitated conversations. Learn more about conflict resolution.