Before we can talk about resolving conflicts we need to define what we mean by conflict.
Conflicts can take many forms. Sometimes only two people are involved. Other times, it may involve groups of nations and lead to war.
Conflicts occur when:
When people share different personal values. For example one person may feel that sometimes a small lie is okay, while another person believes all lying is wrong.
When there is miscommunication or lack of understanding between people or groups. In such situations, people often hold stereotyped ideas about the others or not understand a different point of view or set of values.
When there is a lack of equality and respect between people or groups. This type of conflict is caused by the belief that some types of people or some groups are better than others. This socially- and culturally-created bias leads to discrimination, mistreatment, and often violence between the groups. We see this form of conflict in racism, in ethnic hatreds, and in religious intolerance.
When people or groups have different goals and/or different ways of reaching a goal. For example, one group of people may want to raise chickens in their backyards and another group of people want to ban farm animals from the neighborhood for health reasons.
When there is a limited resource that different groups both want or must have. We are all familiar with what happens when two toddlers are asked to share one toy, so it should not surprise us that they same thing happens in communities and nations when resources such as water and money must be shared.
When some people or groups have power over other people or groups. When one person or one group sets themselves up being autocratically in charge, those denied power or who rebel or refuse eventually rebel or are destroyed. On the individual level, we see this happening in bullying situations. On the global level, with world leaders and world powers, the result is oppression and war.
The following activity is designed to set the stage for talking about conflict resolution methods. Start out by talking about the different types of conflict and have participants give some examples of each. Post the following somewhere everyone can see the words.
Personal Value Difference | Misunderstanding | Discrimination & Lack of Respect | Different Goals | Limited Resource(s) | Bullying
Sitting in a small group or circle, have each person share a time when they had a conflict with someone and talk about how it made them feel. Have them identify which type of conflict it was.
Follow up the sharing with these questions:
What was similar in all these conflicts? What was different? Did everybody have the same feelings about their conflicts? Why or why not?
Visual Art - Provide art materials and encourage participants to create a visual representation expressing how being in a conflict made them feel.
Drama - Act Pantomime a interpersonal conflict and the resulting emotions.
We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.