How do you manage conflict?

Student voice can be hard! ‘Student’ is a big group with lots of different people in it and a lot of the time this means a whole bunch of different opinions. Difficult conversations are bound to come up, especially when you’re trying to make change, they’re never fun but there are often ways through these conversations that leave your group stronger on the other side. 

Recently, we heard from a student about a tricky conversation that happened in their Student Voice Team. We were excited to hear about students with conflicting opinions finding common ground without adults feeling the need to intervene! 

 

“During a Student Voice Team meeting the topic came up of what student-led activities we can run throughout the year and a student suggested we run an LGBT-centred day. Another student openly came out and said: “I don’t support it, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to treat you any differently, I’ll treat you like a human being.”  

I was worried that those who identify as queer were going to feel a sense of oppression by others openly stating they do not support the community. I think the one thing that helped guide the discussion further along was that the student who didn’t support the community expressed their concern over the event itself. They made it clear they were worried that some students may take things too far and ruin the event through vandalism and derogatory terms. 

So instead of the discussion transitioning into a heated argument over whether being queer is right or wrong, the students were able to stay on track and come to an agreement: if they were to do this event, they would knuckle down and find ways to ensure that students who are a part of the LGBT community feel celebrated, not ridiculed. 

It was nice to see that students on two opposite ends were able to come together, not take things out of context, and be transparent with one another. 

I definitely believe that transparency, honesty, understanding and empathy played a huge role in keeping the discussion on track.”

 

We’ve got some resources around creating a safe space when you’re working in a team and dealing with conflict that you can check out right here. 

And we’re keen to hear about what conflicts you’ve found in your student voice work and how you’ve kept them under control!

 

Let us know in the comments below.