Anna could approach the conflict by trying to work it out directly with Jessie. Thinking ahead and making a plan helped Jessie prepare what she wanted to say and how she wanted to get her message across.

Let’s see how Anna approaches Jessie when she has thought about what she wants to say and planned the conversation.

In this example Anna has approached the issue as something that is affecting both of them. She is asking Jessie to join with her to solve a common problem. Initially Anna:

  • Explains the issue simply, not using any blaming language
  • Lets Jessie explain her perspective without interrupting

When approaching someone for help it is important that they feel like you are listening to them and that their opinion matters. Anna acknowledges Jessie’s feelings saying, “it’s great that you’re getting so much out of it” and then directs the conversation back to the situation she’s trying to address.

When it seems like Jessie is engaged in the conversation Anna then:

  • Puts forward a possible solution that she has prepared earlier and that she thinks could work for both of them
  • Asks for Jessie’s opinion

In this example Jessie could contribute some ideas about how Anna’s requests might be addressed. They could come up with a creative solution that is better than what either of them could have thought of on their own.

The way language is used and the way people feel in a conversation can have a large impact on how a conversation turns out. If you have not prepared for a conversation it is possible to become emotional and the conversation may not work out the way you were expecting.

Let’s see what happens when Anna confronts Jessie about the situation.

In this example Anna has not established a good rapport with Jessie, who is immediately defensive. It’s clear Anna does not achieve what she set out to do in this conversation.

What’s different from the first example is that Anna:

  • Talks in statements
  • Responds defensively to Jessie’s statements
  • Loses control of her emotions as the conversation goes on
  • Reverts to using blaming language

It is important to develop enough trust to talk openly about an issue and to feel comfortable enough to work together to solve the problem.

HAVE A CONVERSATION (with the tutor)

Anna could approach the conflict by discussing it with her tutor. Let’s see what a conversation with the tutor could look like.

In this instance Anna directly names Jessie as the issue. While Jessie’s behaviour may be something Anna would like to change it is not what’s really important to her. By continually referencing Jessie and her behaviour with statements like:

  • We don’t have good conversations
  • Jessie takes over
  • It’s always irrelevant
  • I don’t want to be discussing her trip to Turkey

Anna is not engaging with her tutor about what her underlying motivations are for wanting the situation to change.

You may also notice in this example that Anna:

  • does not acknowledge her tutor’s point of view
  • does not ask for his opinion about the situation

Anna tries to make her point that using the tutorial to prepare effectively for the exam is important to her. However, if the tutor does not feel like his point is getting across to Anna he is unlikely to listen to what she’s really trying to say.

Let’s look at another way the conversation could play out.

In this scenario Anna presents her concerns as questions to the tutor. She asks, “I was wondering if we could use the time more effectively?”

In this conversation Anna:

  • Offers possible solutions
  • Appears interested in his point of view
  • Is not demanding or blaming

What’s different about this conversation from the earlier conversation with her tutor is that Anna has:

  • Prepared for the conversation
  • Not focused on venting about the situation but is solution and future focused
  • Thought about different options that could work and considered them from her perspective, the tutor's perspective and her classmate's perspective

Although the outcome may not end up being exactly what Anna would hope for, the situation may improve and one small positive change could improve the tutorial environment to one Anna can live with.

Anna could also decide that one way to address what’s important to her is to take action and address the conflict in the tutorial room. Let’s see what that could look like.

In this example she:

  • Has prepared responses for directing the conversation
  • Tries a number of different approaches when directing the conversation

Anna’s responses:

  • Are specific (making reference to the subject outline)
  • Include an explanation of why it’s important to her (making reference to the exam)

It’s important for Anna to recognise how people are responding to her actions and to remain flexible enough to change what she’s doing. For example, if the situation gets worse she may need to rethink her plan of action.