Pioneer Peace Pack activity 2 - Conflict Resolution

We've launched #DreamBigAtHome!

Our new lockdown website has hundreds of activities and games to do at home, weekly challenges to try and a regular programme of live workshops and events online, as well as information on how our groups can operate during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Aim of the activity:

Pioneers will learn:

That conflicts between people are normal.
How to prevent minor disagreements from escalating into serious fights.
Steps for working out conflicts fairly and peacefully.

What you will need:
Paper and pencils
Flip chart sheets and marker pens
Copies of the HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICT sheets
Puppets (optional)
Copies of the RESPONSES TO CONFLICT sheet
Copies of the STEPS FOR MEDIATION sheet

All these sheets can be downloaded from the foot of the page.

Suggested warm-up:
Select a simple object, such as an open book or a shoe. Give out paper and pencils and ask the Pioneers to sketch the object from different perspectives (for example, from above, below, far away, and close-up). Ask them to examine the views of the object from these different perspectives:

- What is different?
- What is the same?
- What can't be seen from certain perspectives?
This activity supports the concept that people perceive situations differently.

Main activities:
Try one or more of these five activities on conflict resolution, then undertake the final activity on mediation:

ACTIVITY 1 - How to resolve conflict

Give out copies of the HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICT sheets.

Ask the Pioneers to describe a variety of conflicts that commonly occur at the group, or at home or school. List these on a flip chart sheet. Select two or three of these and discuss how the steps for resolving conflicts could be applied to each situation.

Split the Pioneers into groups of 2 or 3 and ask them to choose and role play one of these conflict situations, either as themselves or with puppets.

Perform each of the role plays for the whole group (or just choose a few if you are short of time) and have a group discussion to evaluate the outcome of each.

Introduce the concept of using words to express feelings instead of blaming someone else or using physical force.

Use a "why" message to state what's bothering you and why, for example: "It really bothers me that you aren't willing to work this out together instead of arguing all the time."

A "blaming" message says what's wrong with the other person.

Example: "You are ruining our project. You're an idiot. You never do anything right."

A "why" message is constructive and points to a solution. A "blaming" message puts the other person on the defensive and leads to more conflict. "Why" messages usually work better.

Ask the Pioneers to try out their role plays again, replacing any “blaming” messages with “why” messages. The revised role plays can be performed again for the group if you have time. Then get back into a circle and discuss:

Did the conflict get resolved in a different way?

Is the outcome the same?


ACTIVITY 2 - Responses to conflict

Write on a flip chart sheet: AVOIDANCE, DIFFUSION, CONFRONTATION. Ask the Pioneers what they understand these words to mean. Clarify the definitions using the following:

acting as though a conflict does not exist; e.g., when a friend stains a shirt you have lent her, and, rather than verbalizing your annoyance, you stay silent yet feel resentful.

a direct response to conflict which can be violent or nonviolent; e.g., telling a friend you're angry because he/she lost your notebook is a nonviolent confrontation; yelling or physical fighting in response to the same situation is a violent confrontation.

delaying dealing with a conflict; e.g., being angry with someone but waiting until you cool off to express your anger.

Explain the consequences and adaptability of each approach. Clearly, a nonviolent confrontation, and some forms of avoidance and diffusion are deliberate acts of peace.

Give out copies of the RESPONSES TO CONFLICT TREE.

Next, describe a conflict similar to the following: Fran and Alice are classmates. Fran worked hard on a plaster of paris sculpture. Alice, without asking, picked it up to look at it, and it fell and smashed.

Using the words, "avoidance," "diffusion" and "confrontation," ask the Pioneers to think about their own conflict styles and how they fit into the chart. Ask them:

- What are some ways that Fran and Alice can avoid a conflict?
- What might Fran say?
- What might Alice say?
- What are some diffusion techniques?
- What are some violent or nonviolent confrontation techniques? Which approach would be a deliberate act of peace?

Finally, give out pens and small pieces of paper. Ask the Pioneers to write down the most important think they have learned from this activity. Collect the pieces of paper, shuffle them and give them out randomly. Go round the circle getting each person to read out the comment on the paper they are holding.


ACTIVITY 3 - Finding a win-win situation

Explain to the Pioneers that this activity examines ways of resolving conflict without sacrificing anyone's needs.

General guidance on role playing:

Explain to the group that role-plays are improvisations involving two or more characters in an invented conversation.

Be clear about your role-play goal: define characters, situations, objectives.

Be a facilitator: be sure that actors and audience are clear on what's going on. If side coaching is necessary, interrupt obviously so everyone knows what is happening.

Assign fictitious names to the characters so Pioneers understand that actors are not playing themselves.

When the role-play situation has developed, freeze the action and ask the audience open-ended questions such as: What did you see? How did it make you feel? Who said what to whom?

Ask the Pioneers for suggestions on how the actors could have played the scene differently, then replay the situation using these suggestions. Afterwards, reprocess with the class. Ask: How did this go? How did you feel about it?

Finally, debrief the Pioneers by helping the actors separate from their characters with questions such as: How did you feel as that character? What would you have done differently yourself? How would you advise these characters? What was most difficult about your role? Would you like to do this again?

Keep scenes, including replay and discussion, to a maximum of 10-15 minutes.

Introduce this chart as a handout or on the flip chart:

                                                      Amy gets what she needs      Amy doesn't get what she needs

Roger gets what he needs                         Win - Win                                       Win - Lose

Roger doesn't get what he needs              Lose - Win                                      Lose - Lose

Select two Pioneers for a role-play using this situation:
Roger is a high school student having maths trouble with a big test tomorrow. He is in the living room studying for this test when he's interrupted by his little sister, Amy, who's had a tough day and needs to have some fun and relax. She turns on the music and starts dancing. Roger needs quiet. They argue. Introduce the above chart as a handout or on the board.

Discuss the possible outcomes in reference to the chart. If Roger intimidates Amy into turning off the music, it's a win-lose situation. If Roger and Amy's parents find them brawling, they're both in trouble and it's a lose-lose outcome. Win-win ideas include Amy using a Walkman or going to a friend's house.

Spend some time devising win-win solutions stressing multiple options. Replay the scene using these win-win suggestions.

Afterwards, discuss how the solutions worked out and debrief the actors as described in number 2.

In this situation, Roger needed quiet while Amy wanted the same space for music. If they held on to these positions, no win-win solution was possible. The win-win solutions were based on satisfying underlying needs; that is, Roger's need to have some acknowledgment of the importance of his work, and Amy's important need for lighthearted fun. Underlying needs are often basic human needs for security, economic well-being, a sense of belonging, recognition and control over one's life. Once identified, these needs can often be met with win-win solutions.

Ask the Pioneers to describe times when they were expressing a need in a positional way and times when they feel they reached a win-win solution. Explain that these are examples of Conscious Acts of Peace.

Finally, ask the Pioneers to explain the most significant lesson learned from this activity, and to offer one word describing how they feel.

ACTIVITY 4 - Conflict resolution vocabulary

Explain that there are many ways people resolve conflicts, some of which have names.

Read the RESOLUTION VOCABULARY handout with the group, discussing each of the terms.

Ask students if they can think of examples of each kind of conflict resolution.

Hand out the IDENTIFY THE RESOLUTION handout and read the following situations to the group. Ask the Pioneers to identify what type of conflict resolution is being used in each case:

Roger and Kate were arguing over who would get to use the box of markers. They realized that arguing was getting them nowhere, so they figured out several ways they could both use the markers. Then they chose the way they liked best. (NEGOTIATE)

Jerry, Ted, and Anthea are supposed to put up a bulletin board display together, but they can't agree on what the theme should be. They finally went to their teacher Mr. Nunez and asked him to choose the bulletin board theme. (ARBITRATE)

Juanita was upset because her best friend Sara walked by her this morning without saying a word. She didn't speak to Sara all day. Finally Sara got Juanita to say what was wrong. "I didn't even see you," Sara cried. "I would never walk by without saying something to you." It was all a misunderstanding. (COMMUNICATE)

Ric and Diana were playing on the same rounders team, but they both wanted to bowl. They were shouting at each other. Finally Monty came up and helped them work out a solution to the problem. (MEDIATE)

Marla was being teased and called names by some kids in the class. She hated being called names. Every morning the class had a class meeting to discuss things. Marla suggested that there be a class rule against name-calling and teasing. (LEGISLATE)

Carmen has accused Reuben of stealing things out of her locker. They have taken their problem to the student court. The court is made up of a high school girl, who is the judge, and a jury of eighth- and ninth-graders. They will present evidence to the court. The jury will decide if Reuben is guilty. If he is, the judge will decide his punishment (LITIGATE)

Conclude this activity by discussing the following questions:

- Have you used one of these conflict resolution approaches? If so, describe the situation.

- What are some other ways of resolving conflicts that are not on this handout? (compromise, problem solving, competing, using chance)


ACTIVITY 5 - Practicing Problem Solving

Explain that when there is a conflict, there is a problem.

When trying to resolve conflicts, it helps to have a way to think about the problem and to attempt to solve it.

Write the following steps on a flip chart sheet:

  • 1. Define the problem.
  • 2. Brainstorm solutions.
  • 3. Choose a solution and act on it.
  • Go over each step with the group.

Point out that before the problem solving begins, the people in the conflict have to agree to work it out. In order for problem solving to work, they have to agree to really try to work it out, and to not shout or call names. They want to DE-escalate the conflict, not escalate it.

Emphasize that in step two they want to come up with as many possible solutions as they can.

In step three they want to choose a solution(s) that is win-win.

Encourage the Pioneers to define problems in a way that does not affix blame.

After the Pioneers have been introduced to this problem solving approach to conflict resolution, give them a chance to practice the technique by acting out a conflict resolution skit.

Get two volunteers act out the TAPE RECORDER FIGHT. When they have finished, take the group through the problem solving approach.

When the group has decided which solution it likes best, get the players act it out. Is it a win-win resolution?

There may be several solutions the group likes. The actors may try acing out all of them.

Divide the Pioneers into small groups and get each group to think of a conflict situation and use the problem solving approach to find a solution. Each group can then act out their problem solving for the rest of the group.

Once all of the sketches have been performed, get the group to discuss the following questions:

- What makes the conflicts in the skits escalate?

- What words can people say to indicate that they want to stop the fight and try to solve the problem?

- Have you ever had a conflict like this one? How did you resolve it?


ACTIVITY 6 - Mediation

Explain to the group that mediation is a technique which young people can use to help their friends and peers to resolve disputes and conflicts. There are a few simple rules that have to be learnt and followed if mediation is going to work.

Distribute copies of STEPS FOR MEDIATION and ask the Pioneers to read them.

To ensure that they understand these steps, ask them to suggest issues to consider when planning to intervene as a mediator. Look for suggestions such as:

Am I the right person?
Do I know one party better?
Can I assist without taking sides?
Will both parties let me assist?
Is this the right time to intervene?
Are the parties relatively calm?
Do we have enough time?
Is this the right place?

Ask the Pioneers how they would feel if they offered to mediate and were rejected. What would they do? Ask them why privacy is important. What would be the effect of doing the intervention in a public place?

Ask what they think are the reasons for these rules. What would be the result of not having these rules? What should they do if the disputants fail to observe the rules?

Describe the following situation, and briefly discuss what might have happened and how the disputants might be feeling:

Pat and Lou are good friends. Pat broke up with his/her girl/boyfriend and told Lou the story including all the events that led to the breakup. Later Pat found out the story had got around and blamed Lou for the gossip telling him/her never to get close to him/her again.

Divide the Pioneers into groups of four. Two will play the disputants, one, the mediator, and the fourth, an observer. Have the disputants role-play the conflict and the mediator offer help using STEPS FOR MEDIATION.

After the first role-play, ask the observer help the process by asking the group questions such as: What went well? What could have gone differently? The Pioneers can then change roles so each plays either a disputant or a mediator.

Afterwards, ask:

- How did you feel when the mediator offered assistance?
- Did it feel helpful?
- Like an intrusion?
- How did you feel when you offered mediation?
- Can you imagine yourself offering to mediate a dispute in your family? Among friends?
- Have you ever done that?

Finally, go around the circle and ask the Pioneers to come up with one word to describing how they are feeling. 

HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICTS - Pioneer Peace Pack.doc19.5 KB
responses to conflict - pioneer peace pack.jpg104.65 KB
RESOLUTION VOCABULARY - Pioneer Peace Pack.doc20.5 KB
IDENTIFY THE RESOLUTION - Pioneer Peace Pack.doc21 KB
TAPE RECORDER FIGHT ROLE PLAY - Pioneer Peace Pack.doc21.5 KB
STEPS FOR MEDIATION - Pioneer Peace Pack.doc23.5 KB