Conflict Resolution: Conversation Examples
I chose two of the conflicts I see frequently between an adolescent boy and his parent.
Conflict Resolution Tool
- State the facts: Who, What, When and Where
- Make a judgment: A judgment is an “I think you or me statement” about self and about other person
- State feeling: The Big Four-mad, sad, glad or afraid (can be a combination of these)
- Say what you want: You want to be heard and what you want to be different
Rules of Engagement
The rule is this: Schedule time together, at least an hour, to discuss the conflict. There should be no distractions or disturbances. One person speaks at a time, the other listens intently to repeat back what the other says (approx. 7 words +/-) until completed. This rule is very important as it solidifies that each person is listening and “engaged.”
“Everybody Else Gets to Stay Out Later”
If you’re parenting son(s) 15-17 yrs. old, how often do you hear this one? It’s the most popular topic for conflict resolution among parents of older boys.
In this case Dylan and his mom; she is angry that Dylan broke curfew.
Dylan: “Mom I didn’t get home last night until midnight (FACTS) (Rule: Mom repeats-you didn’t get home last night till midnight). I think 10:00 p.m. is too early and if you trusted me more you would let me stay out later (JUDGMENT) (Rule: Mom repeats-you think 10:00 p.m. is too early and if I trusted you more I’d let you stay out later). I feel mad, it’s unfair I’m the only one who has to be home by 10:00 p.m.(FEELING) (Rule: Mom repeats-you feel mad because you’re the only one who has to be home by 10:00 p.m.). I want you to let me stay out later. Can we make 11:00 p.m. my curfew (WHAT YOU WANT) (Rule: Mom repeats-you want to stay out later till 11:00)?”
Mom: “Dylan last night you broke curfew; curfew is 10:00 p.m. (FACTS) (Rule: Dylan repeats-I broke curfew, curfew is 10:00 p.m.). I think midnight is too late and I think you push it on purpose (JUDGMENT) (Rule: Dylan repeats-you think midnight is too late and that I push it on purpose). I feel angry but also afraid for you to be out that late (FEELING) (Rule: Dylan repeats-you feel angry and afraid for me to be out that late). I do not want you out past 10:00 p.m., but I hear that you want more time. I am willing to extend curfew to 10:15 p.m. because I do trust you (WHAT YOU WANT) (Rule: Dylan repeats-you don’t want me out past 10:00 p.m. but hear I want more time. You’re willing to let me stay out until 10:15 p.m. because you trust me).”
“I Just Need to Get to Next Level”
If your son is in the 11-13 yr. old range most likely his life revolves around video games!
In this case Caleb and his dad; he is tired of Caleb always playing video games.
Follow rule demonstrated above.
Caleb: “Dad I get yelled at everyday about playing Minecraft (FACTS). I don’t think it’s that big of a deal and I think you yell too much (JUDGMENT). I feel scared when you yell at me (FEELING). I really like playing games and I want you to let me, and also stop yelling about it (WHAT YOU WANT).
Dad: “Caleb playing video games everyday for hours gets on my nerves (FACTS). I think I get so frustrated I take it out on you by yelling (JUDGMENT). I feel angry when you’re always playing games. I’m sad that you are scared when I yell (FEELING). I want you to have time to play video, I don’t want to yell. I am willing to a limit of 2 hours a day (WHAT YOU WANT).
It Will Feel Uncomfortable
I mentioned in resolving conflict blog, this process is not “second nature” and it will feel awkward at first! What I know for sure is that following the steps above can be magical in resolving a conflict. These are examples of conversations with children; but it works the same with spouse, partner and co-workers so don’t hesitate to incorporate it in your everyday life.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor for over 25 yrs. I have taught many couples, parents, families and individuals this conflict resolution process. This method is the best and I highly recommend!
As promised, I’ll provide a video example next week so that you have a visual guide as well.
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Were the examples helpful? Will you share your experience?