Conflict Resolution Continues!

This week’s letter from Saint Mark’s Catholic School teacher, Patrick Bowlin, continues digging deeper and more tangibly into the world of conflict resolution.

Imagine a school playground where students know how to navigate conflict.

Imagine a school lunchroom where students know how to navigate conflict.

Imagine a school classroom where students know how to navigate conflict.

Imagine those same students on the bus, and eventually at home, navigating conflict effectively.


Guess what? They don’t know how yet.

Who will teach them?

You,…with a little help from Mr. Bowlin.


Top 20 Training: Steps to Resolving Conflict

This week we examined the idea of Heart-to-Heart conflict resolution. In contrast to Toe-to-Toe, this ideal kind of conflict resolution focuses on a partnership that invites cooperation, compromise, and an openness to meeting the needs of both sides. The result of Heart-to-Heart conflict resolution is a stronger relationship that has trust and mutual respect.

Our Top 20 curriculum provides us with four steps to resolving conflict:

  1. Listen to understand what the other person needs and what is important to them.
  2. Work together to find the best solution.
  3. Practice “I” Statements.
  4. Decide on a plan.

In the midst of conflict it is tempting to blame the other person or be critical of their actions. By attacking the other individual with “You” statements, we become ineffective with our communication. When we use blame, we revert back to the Toe-to-Toe method. Instead of trying to meet in the middle, blame becomes a one-sided battle that is only focused on what the other person is doing wrong.

“I” statements are simply more effective because they invite conversations about how we are feeling and what changes could be made to make things better. These statements allow empathy to play a role in the resolution process as we share how the conflict is impacting us. By listening to each other, working together to find a solution, sharing how we feel, and making a plan for moving beyond the conflict, we can effectively resolve conflict.

Conflict is difficult and inevitable, and if we ignore it, it is only going to get worse. The four steps to resolving conflict seem simple, but our fourth graders were able to identify some reasons why resolving conflict is so challenging. Students mentioned the need to be right, controlling your emotions when a conflict arises, and the challenge of listening to another person’s point of view that could contradict your own.   It isn’t the type of conflict we encounter that reveals our character but rather the way in which we choose to handle them with a genuine care for the needs of others. Consider having a conversation with your son/daughter about the four steps to resolving conflict.