Instinct or Instilled – What is Conflict Resolution?

1 Sep

As a “glass half-full” kind of gal, I’d LIKE to think that we all have the instinct to resolve conflict. I’d like to believe we WANT to resolve conflict because that’s what’s best for society, our family, and our livelihood.

But, alas, I’m wrong.

At least, that’s according to Deborah Wilhelm, a counselor from Waukegan School District 60 in Chicago. John Flink from the Chicago Tribune wrote an article about Wilhelm and her work with schools in Chicago:

According to Flink, the district began teaching conflict-resolution skills one day per week in several schools (the program was developed by the Peace Education Foundation of Florida), using a program that stressed a systematic approach, starting with identifying the problem and then learning to attack it, not the person associated with it.conflict-resolution-learning

And, success! According to Flink, pilot schools reportedly showing marked decreases in acts of student violence and referrals to counselors. In fact, the program was so successful that Waukegan Police Chief Scott Burleson said that he planned to make conflict-resolution training mandatory for all police officers.

So, how do we make heads-or-tails of the research? It seems, like most things, we have to learn the skills behind effective conflict resolution. Sure, some of us may be born with more “instinctive” conflict resolution skills. But, in the end, we need to practice them to be proficient. And, those who weren’t genetically blessed with instinctive conflict resolution skills, well, there’s good news: You can learn them!

Let’s all give ourselves a break if we don’t automatically know how to resolve a conflict. It takes time to perfect the art of mediation and listening. Heaven knows I’m still learning!


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