Conflict Resolution Process for Employees & Parents
Conflict inevitably arises within any community and it can present an opportunity for growth and change. Conflict itself is not unhealthy but when conflict is not resolved, it undermines healthy working relationships. For that reason, we ask our faculty, staff, and parents to take time to work through conflict towards resolution. If you or someone you know is in conflict, we encourage you to take the following steps.
Conflict with another person or group
When you feel you are in conflict with another person or group—approach that person or group first and seek resolution. When meeting with a group, you may wish to take a support person with you.
If the conflict involves issues that you have with a group within the school, you should meet with the group. You may wish to seek a support person to go with you.
- If you do not feel there is resolution, you should take the issue to the faculty chair (for the College of Teachers), the administrative chair, or the board chair, depending on the group involved.
- If, after this meeting, you still are not able to feel resolution, then you should write a letter to the board chair, describing the situation and indicating possible actions that might help you resolve the conflict.
Conflict with a classroom situation, difficulty with a teacher, or pedagogical issues
If the conflict involves a classroom situation, a difficulty with a teacher, or other pedagogical issues, you should speak with the teacher concerned.
- If you do not feel there is resolution, then you should take the issue to the early childhood or the grade school chair, either in writing or in person.
- If you still do not feel there is resolution, then you should take the issue to the faculty chair, either in writing or in person.
Conflict involving a financial situation, difficulty with a staff member, or other administrative issues
If the conflict involves a financial situation, a difficulty with a staff member, or other administrative issues, you should speak with the staff person involved.
- If you do not feel there is resolution, you should take the issue to the administrative chair, either in writing or in person.
- If, after meeting with the administrative chair, you still are not able to feel resolution, then you should write a letter to the board chair describing the situation and indicating possible actions that might help you resolve the conflict.
Guidelines for writing a letter to describe your situation:
- State the problem or conflict clearly.
- Provide specific examples that support what you are trying to say, including dates and names of those involved, if applicable.
- Remember to keep the tone of your letter respectful of all parties involved.
Tips for Compassionate Communication
NVC (also called Compassionate Communication) involves honest expression and empathetic listening.
There are four areas of focus
- Observation – the concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being
- Feelings – how we are feeling in relation to what we are observing
- Needs – the needs, values, desires, wants, preferences that are creating our feelings
- Request – the concrete, positive, doable actions we request in order to enrich our lives.
Anger is often times part of the equation when interacting with others, either our own or that of the other person. Transforming anger is a key to nonviolent communication success and can be achieved by following the following sequence of steps:
- Stop – stop your anger from escalating. Sit down, take a deep breath, relax.
- Think – think about what’s making you angry and how you’re going to react.
- Objectify – focus on realistic expectations of based on past experience, rationalize.
- Plan – plan your response, including feelings and specific actions.
Empathetic listening can be difficult to put into practice. Robert Gonzales of the Living Compassion Organizations offers the follows tips:
- Don’t give advice or try to fix it by saying “I think you should…” or “If I were you…”
- Don’t correct the story by saying “But you were the one who…”
- Don’t tell your story by saying “That reminds me of the time…”
- Don’t one-up the other person by saying “That’s nothing, listen to this!”
Suggestions for putting NVC into practice:
- When asking someone to do something, check first to see if you are making a request or a demand.
- Instead of saying what you DON’T want someone to do, say what you DO want the person to do.
- Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone’s opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.
- Instead of saying “no,” say what need of yours is preventing you from saying “yes.”
- If you are feeling upset, think about what need of yours is not being met and what could be done to meet it, instead of thinking about what’s wrong with others or yourself.
- Instead of praising someone who did something you like, express your gratitude by telling the person what need of yours that action met.
Book: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg.