Irritated? Frustrated? Angry? Ready to explode? You're not
alone. Whether it's an argument with a friend, aggravation
because a driver cut in front of you, or rage because your ex-girlfriend
or -boyfriend is going out with your best friend — conflict
is part of everyday life. Anger leads to conflict, produces stress,
hurts friendships, and can lead to violence. We can't always
avoid anger or conflict, but we can learn to manage it without violence.
Steps To Managing Conflict
- Understand your own feelings about conflict. This means recognizing
your triggers — words or actions that immediately cause an
angry or other emotional response. Your trigger might be a facial
expression, a tone of voice, a finger being pointed, a stereotype,
or a certain phrase. Once you know your triggers, you can improve
control over your reactions.
- Practice active listening. Go beyond hearing only words; look
for tone, body language, and other clues to what the other person
is saying. Pay attention instead of thinking about what you're
going to say next. Demonstrate your concentration by using body
language that says you are paying attention. Looking at the ground
with your arms crossed says you're uninterested in what
the other person is telling you. Look the other person in the
eye, nod your head, and keep your body relaxed and your posture
- Come up with your own suggestions for solving the problem. Many people
can think of only two ways to manage conflict—fighting or avoiding
the problem. Get the facts straight. Use your imagination to think up
ways that might help resolve the argument.
Moving Toward Agreement
- Agree to sit down together in a neutral place to discuss the
- Come to the discussion with a sincere willingness to settle
- State your needs — what results are important to you —
and define the problem. Talk about the issues without insulting or blaming
the other person.
- Discuss various ways of meeting needs or solving the problem.
Be flexible and open-minded.
- Decide who will be responsible for specific actions after reaching
agreement on a plan. Write the agreement down and give both people
Confronting the Issue
Good communication skills are a necessity throughout our lives.
They allow us to resolve issues before they become problems and
help keep us from getting angry. When talking to people, especially
those who are acting confrontational,
- look and feel relaxed
- keep your voice calm
- be direct and specific about what's bothering you. Use
"I" statements — statements that emphasize how
you feel, rather than blaming the other person. Instead of yelling,
"You always interrupt me! You don't care what I think,"
try saying "I feel frustrated when I can't finish
making my point. I feel as though my opinions don't matter."
- ask — don't demand. Instead of saying, "Get
away from me," try asking, "Would you please leave
me alone right now? I am trying to talk to my friends."
- make your statement once, then give it a rest. Don't
repeat your point endlessly.
If You Can't Work It Out... Get Help
Mediation. Many schools offer programs that train students
to act as mediators for their peers. Mediators do not make decisions
for people — they help people make their own decisions. Mediators
encourage dialog, provide guidance, and help the parties define
areas of agreement and disagreement.
Student Courts. Many schools have implemented teen courts
to help students solve disputes. Teens serve as judges, juries,
prosecutors, and defenders in each case. Students caught fighting
on campus can use the courts to settle arguments, and teen juries
can "sentence" those students to detention or community
service, rather than imposing suspension or expulsion.
Anger Management. How to recognize attitudes, actions,
and circumstances that trigger an angry reaction and how to control
that reaction are skills that many teens — and even some adults —
have not learned. Anger management training helps individuals take
command of their emotional reactions instead of allowing their emotions
to take command of them.
Arbitration. In arbitration, a neutral third party determines
an action. Disputing parties agree on an arbitrator who then hears
evidence from all sides, asks questions, and hands down a decision.
Where To Find Help
- Schools (check on whether they have peer mediation programs),
colleges, and universities.
- Community or neighborhood dispute resolution centers.
- Local government — family services.
- Private organizations listed in the telephone directory's
Yellow Pages under "arbitration" or "mediation
- Law school legal clinics.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council