Before thinking about what you are going to do about a confict situation, it is important to take some time to clearly understand what’s going on and what your needs are.

Let’s have a look at Lucy’s story and see if we can identify the facts, the feelings and what’s really important for her. One way to start thinking about a conflict is to look at what has happened? Look at the information Lucy has and her interpretation of what has occurred.

1. What are the facts?

It is useful to look at the information you have and try to distinguish between what has actually happened and your interpretation of what has occurred. Let’s consider the following questions:

What does Lucy actually know?
  • She’s going on holiday in a week
  • She did her assessment in advance
  • Her lecturer has changed the readings and questions for that assessment piece
What has she assumed?
  • What she has already completed will not be accepted
  • Her lecturer is discriminating against her
What evidence does she have?
  • Her completed assignment (done with the initial readings and questions)
  • The new requirements (changed readings and questions)
Could anyone else have other information that might change things?

(Remember: the lecturer or other people involved may interpret the same information differently based on their own particular personality and experiences.)

  • What information might her class mates have?
  • What information might her lecturer have?
  • Is there anyone else relevant to the situation who may have information? (tutor, student administration staff, head of school, library staff, etc)

Next you could consider what are the feelings involved in the conflict.

2. What is Lucy feeling?
  • Stressed
  • Unhappy
  • Feeling lost “I have no idea how to fix it”

It is useful to figure out how you are feeling when you are in conflict as it can help you understand what is really important to you. What you’re feeling and how strongly you’re feeling it may also influence the choices you make.

3. What’s really important?

Sometimes people get focused on a particular outcome and don’t realise that it is not actually the most important thing to them. A useful question to ask yourself is “why do I want this particular outcome?”.

For example, Lucy wants a higher grade on her piece of assessment, but if we asked her to explain why she wanted that, she might have other reasons like:

  • She needs to keep her GPA up to be accepted into an honours program
  • She wants to keep her parents happy
  • She can’t afford to fail this subject because of her visa requirements
  • She feels like she worked very hard on this assessment and wants a grade that will reflect that

We have put together a worksheet that you can use to get clearer about what’s going on? in your own conflict.