R E L A T I O N S H I P S:
Conflict Resolution Toolkit
(Secret weapons for handling People Problems)


Everyone has their own ideas about what they like, and don't like. Sometimes (okay... often) ideas and people clash and you've got a conflict.

Conflict resolution means: "clearing up problems between people" and it's not that hard. When you want to resolve a conflict so everyone feels they've been treated fairly all you need are these hi-powered "tools"....

  • Cooling off
  • Listening
  • Using "I feel" statements
  • Figuring out your part

Tool #1 - Cooling Off

Each of us has a different "boiling" point. Know yourself well enough to chill out when you need to. If you're ready to explode at someone, take time out from the argument and breathe. (A simple activity but helpful for life on this planet.)

Focus on your breath as it goes in and out.

Close your eyes.


You may think more clearly after "centering" yourself. Physically removing yourself from the person who is pissing you off may help calm you down. A walk around the block or even around your room may work. Once you feel calmer it's easier to resolve the conflict. "Calming down" doesn't mean you should try to bottle up your anger. If your anger is a car, then calming down is a way of being "in the drivers seat" instead of just going along for the ride.

Another reason you need to calm down is that sometimes out of control anger causes physically violent or emotionally hurtful behavior. You'll also be in a much better position to talk to the person who made you angry if you're not screaming! They will also be more likely to listen.

Tool # 2 - Listening Skills

Most of us don't really listen to other people when they talk because we're too wrapped up in thinking about what we want to say. But unless both people are listening, you can't resolve a conflict. To really HEAR what someone is saying, you have to clear your mind of all the other things going on and be there with the other person..

You say you do listen when other people talk?

Cool. But just for fun why not test yourself? Go up to someone you know and say: "What's up?" Are you really listening to what they say? Or are you thinking about what you're going to say as soon as when they stop talking?

Practice listening. Sit down with a friend and for 60 seconds really listen while they talk to you. Don't interrupt. Don't judge or analyze. Don't say anything!! Just listen.........

How did it feel to really focus on what someone is saying? Ask them to do the same for you for one minute and see how it feels to have someone really listening to you!

Tool #3 - Using "I feel" statements

Saying how you feel really improves communication. Most of us don't do that. Instead we focus on what we don't like about something someone did. Suppose you and your sister are fighting over who gets to use the phone. You scream at her: "You always hog the phone! You never give me my messages."

Chances are she'll scream right back at you and nothing will get resolved. Sound familiar?

Now let's try something different. Instead of: "You always..." or "You never...", use "I feel" statements. You might say: "I feel like you don't respect me or my friendships when you don't give me my messages, or let me use the phone."

Since you're talking about your feelings (not verbally attacking your sister) she probably won't yell back at you. After you've had your say, LISTEN to what she says about the way she feels. Then you can move on from there. Think about how this might change what happens next if you remember to use this tool. It could totally change your relationship with your sister!

Important Note: You can't use "I feel" statements when you don't know how you feel about something. But if you practice thinking and talking in "I feel" statements you'll start knowing more about your feelings.

Tool # 4 - Figuring out your part in a conflict

It's always easier seeing what the other guy contributed to a conflict than thinking about what you did or said. So we have to learn to figure our personal responsibility in any situation. Ask yourself these questions:

This isn't about blame, so don't beat yourself up. It's about understanding your behavior and finding more effective ways to disagree with other people and resolve conflicts!


Got a question? Write to Hey, Terra!


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last updated November 19, 2005
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