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Conflict Mediation The Resident Assistant’s Role

Learning Outcomes ● ● ●

RAs will discuss how conflict occurs in the residence hall community RAs will review their role in identifying and responding to conflict RAs will identify the steps to hosting a successful conflict mediation between residents and peers

Why do people hate conflict?

How do you define a conflict? What are some of the cues that someone is experiencing conflict with another?

Emotional differences ○ ○ ○ ○

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Avoiding contact Behavioral changes ○ ○ ○

Frustration Irritability Outbursts Withdrawing

Communication Daily habits Others?


What is conflict? Conflict means a person’s value is being threatened!

How do values impact conflict? When people avoid confronting a conflict, they’re afraid of: Criticism Rejection Loss ...all of which speak to what is important to the individual experiencing conflict (what they value)

Is conflict ever helpful? 1) How do we try to prevent conflict from happening? 2) What are some of the policies, structures, and procedures in place to help students avoid conflict? 3) What do students learn from conflict?

The RA’s Role in Managing Conflict

Roommate agreements Roommate agreements can “inoculate� roommates from conflict, or at the very least, open up a structured channel of communication for when issues arise later.

How do you work to make roommate agreements effective? How do you describe their purpose to your residents?

Policies and Procedures How do our policies and procedures (Guide to Residential Living) help you manage conflict?

“The Roommate’s Bill Of Rights” Several examples out there...what do you think is important for roommates to know/respect? ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Sleep Study Personal safety/security Be treated with respect An equal share of space in the room To be listened to and taken seriously To make mistakes - and be responsible for the consequences To express feelings in a manner that doesn’t violate the dignity of others To say no without feeling guilty To have preferences that are respected and just as important as others’ preferences To feel comfortable in one’s own home/assigned space

Activity: Values Trash Can

What is Mediation? An informal, but structured process by which people involved in a conflict come together to solve the issue. Result-oriented Focused on problem-solving Designed to resolve current and future issues

Mediation is not: Designed to make all involved parties “friends�

Role of a Mediator ●

Neutral facilitator of the session ○

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Assists those involved to hear and understand each person’s issues and feelings associated with the situation May occasionally give a reality check to each person’s perspective, especially if their requests or expressed needs are unreasonable ○

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If you already have a “side,” you probably shouldn’t mediate

“I need to be alone in the space at all times!”

Assists in developing a solution to meet both person’s needs DOES NOT decide “who is right,” “who should compromise,” etc., but may provide context/policy info

Traits of a SUCCESSFUL Mediator NEUTRAL Calm

Has (and uses) a POKER FACE Flexible


Thinks before speaking Confident



Sincere Creative

Good Listener Patient



Conducting a Mediation 1) Setting the Stage How do you arrange the room? Who faces whom? Whose back is to the door? Where do you sit? Setting ground rules Establishing mediator role

2) Uninterrupted Time Find your “style� You vs. I statements Mediator involvement

Conducting a Mediation 3) Define the Issues Based on facts and data Both parties should agree Prioritize what should be addressed first Writing in advance

4) Generate Options Wants vs. “willing to� Brainstorming! Anything could go! Getting buy-in

Conducting a Mediation 5) Put tests in place to evaluate success! What needs to change to end the conflict? How could you observe the effects of the mediation in terms of the behaviors in the space? What’s a reasonable time frame for follow-up?

Quick Tips ●

Think about verb tense ○ ○ ○

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Encourage residents to name emotions Ask thoughtful questions ○ ○

Past tense=blame Present tense=the principle Future tense=problem solving

Interest v. position Why is something important to the individual?

Summarize in a way that each party will hear the interests.

Practice Scenario: It’s October. Chris is a sophomore living on campus with his friend Pat. They’ve been friends since High School, and decided to live together their second year at VCU. They had so much in common, they weren’t anticipating any issues with living together. During the last month, they’ve noticed certain habits becoming annoying to each other. They haven’t talked to each other about the issues, but have independently assumed it was just part of sharing space. Last week, Pat blew up and yelled at Chris for bringing a guest to the apartment while Pat was out. Both demand the other is moved to a new space.

Profile for Counselor Critchley

Conflict Resolution  

Conflict Resolution