An option Maria considered during her brainstorming was that she could approach the conflict by having a conversation with Tim. In this first scenario, Maria has made a plan about what she wants to say and how she wants to express her point of view.

Let’s have a look at Maria’s first conversation with Tim:

Maria started the conversation by asking Tim if she could speak to him. By doing this she ensured that Tim had enough time to have the conversation and that she would have Tim’s full attention. Maria then explained that:

  • She finds it difficult to understand when people speak fast
  • She would like him to speak a bit slower

Maria then listened to Tim and his thoughts in response to this. Tim was able to explain that “this never even crossed his mind”.

In this scenario Tim is also given an opportunity to vent his frustration and this allows them both to unpack other issues such as:

  • Maria saying yes to everything
  • Maria not turning up to their arranged meeting
  • Seeing the conflict from the other persons perspective
  • Finding out the facts, feelings and what’s important for everyone involved

Although you can’t predict how the other person will react, by preparing yourself as much as possible, you may be able to deal effectively with various reactions.

Alternatively Maria’s first conversation could have looked like this:

This conversation starts off with Tim not being prepared to listen to Maria. Instead he tells her that “this is clearly not working” and he will do the presentation himself and all she has to do is turn up.

Maria is able to turn this conversation around because prior to their conversation she had already thought about her:

  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Possible options and outcomes that would work for her
  • Expression and the best way to present what she wants to say to Tim

In this example Maria is able to:

  • Explain to Tim that she wants to work on the presentation too
  • Suggest to Tim that they sit down together and discuss what would work best for both of them

It is important to remember that during your time at university you will have the opportunity to learn new skills and learn to work with people from a range of cultural backgrounds. Showing adaptability to different working styles is a strength that will be valued by lecturers and future employers.