Conflict Resolution – A Leadership Trait

Mr Peter Wilson | Director of Co-curricular Activities

One of the great challenges for me, and I think for our students, is in dealing with conflict, disagreement and the different points of view between individuals.

Personally I have adopted an agreement that enables me to deal with and help resolve conflict and disagreements that arise – that is not to take anything personally (Ruiz 2013). What other people say and do is a projection of their reality; their perception of what has occurred in a situation. This perception and ultimately their projection of their reality is informed by their life experiences. These experiences are what they hear, smell, feel and taste.

Recent cognitive research (for example Eagleman 2015) indicates that these senses are flawed and two people viewing a particular situation will interpret it differently. In other words, our perception is our reality. This is what makes people and life interesting and distinguishes us from machines. It also can be a source of discomfort in our interactions if we view our interpretation as the only reality.

The difficulty in gaining positive outcomes from conflict and disagreement arise when people believe their interpretation of a situation is the only one, as this results in an unresolved conflict. Both sides involved in a conflict or disagreement need to be prepared to listen, to be able to adjust their position if presented with other views, and be given the opportunity to outline their position. However, it is also an appropriate outcome to agree to disagree after this process, as this demonstrates respect for others’ right to frame a position around their values and life experiences.

Ultimately the ability to live as a community, with all its inherent diversity, relies on every individual embracing difference and striving to develop as a person. This includes strengthening our moral compass, being prepared to evolve and change, and certainly being able to confidently deal with conflict. I would postulate that part of becoming a leader is the ability to deal with conflict. I would also argue that these skills require development and attention from all of us in order to gain positive and beneficial outcomes. Teaching these skills to students, as well as recognising them as staff and parents are very important for schools, broader communities and work places.

SCOTS PGC College is a vibrant and diverse community which provides wonderful opportunities, across all spheres of the College, for our students to hone and develop their skills as leaders and this is another example of the very important lessons that we learn outside of the classroom.

References

Ruiz MA and Mills J. 1997. The Four Agreements. San Rafael California: Amber – Allen Publishing.

Eagelman D. 2015.The Brain The Story of You. Edinburgh; Canongate Books.