FAQs: Conflict Resolution

Conflict can arise when there are disagreements over: views, values or actions and interests or needs are not being met. Conflict can also be an opportunity for change.

Some quick tips for resolving conflict

  • Listen to the other person
  • Try to imagine what it’s like for them
  • Ask the other person questions about the reasons they have come to a certain decision
  • Try to say things in a positive way
  • Be creative when thinking up solutions
  • Try to think of solutions that will benefit everyone
  • Be honest
  • Tell the other person how the situation is affecting you and how you feel
“Perception is at the core of all conflict analysis”.

(Wilmot W. & Hocker J. 2007, Interpersonal Conflict, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.)


People have certain perceptions of their own thoughts and behaviours and they have perceptions of others' thoughts and behaviours. Most of the time when we make a judgment about a certain situation we are doing this through our own perceptions and forget to consider there is another perspective. Example:

Person 1

“She has completely shut down and won’t talk to me. I think she hates me”.

Person 2

“I really miss him but I don’t know how to explain this.”

We all have skills in conflict resolution. It can be helpful to think about different approaches to help negotiate a difficult time.

We can't agree on anything. What can we do?

Creative mutual problem solving

When we are in a disagreement it’s natural to think we are right and there is only one way to win. Try considering options where you both win. It may not be the most obvious answer but try to be creative. Example:

Person 1

“I want you to save some of your money instead of spending it all.”

Person 2

“I want to save up but I only get £10. How am I supposed to save any of that?”

Suggestion for a Win/win solution:

Person 1

“If you help out a bit more around the house I’ll give you some extra money.”

What's really going on?

Positions and interests

When a conflict begins it usually starts with someone’s position.


“I hate my little sister” (position)

“I miss spending time with mum, we never do anything together now” (interest)

They don’t understand. How do I get them to see my point of view?


Explain - help the other person to understand why something has happened or why you feel a certain way. When people say “just because” this shuts down the conversation and makes moving forward difficult.

How do I get them to listen to me?

Listen to them

The best way to get someone to listen to you is to make sure you have heard them and demonstrate this to them.

Example: “I understand the reasons you want me to stay on at school, I know you’re worried about my future, but here are the reasons I want to leave …”

How can we stop arguments spiralling out of control?


Different people react in different ways to conflict. Our reactions are things we do as a first response e.g. fight back, shout, swear, give in, give up, shut down, run away, cut off contact, hide from the difficulty. The problem with allowing ourselves to continually react is that we lose sight of what’s actually important to us. Step back from the argument, allow yourself time to think about things. It’s ok to say “let me think about this.”