It is important in any conflict situation to take some time to think clearly about what is going on. Here Bec describes her thoughts after the first two weeks of her placement.

From what Bec has said it is possible to look at the facts, the feeling and what is important from her point of view.

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 Bec actually know?
  • She has been in her work placement for 2 weeks
  • She has a list of criteria and objectives she needs to fulfill to be assessed as satisfactory on this placement
  • Every day, so far, she has been given administrational tasks to complete
  • The supervisor at her placement is very busy and has a lot of meetings to attend
What has she assumed?
  • That she is doing tasks unrelated to her work placement criteria and objectives
  • That she won’t pass the subject and consequently her course
  • That her supervisor can’t mark her because she has not done anything of substance yet
What evidence does she have?
  • She has a list of objectives and criteria in her subject outline that she needs to fulfill to pass her placement
  • Her placement will last for 10 weeks
Could anyone else have other information that might change things?

Remember: her work placement supervisor, work placement coordinator or other people involved may interpret the same information differently based on their own particular personality and experiences.

  • What information might Ms Murphy have?
  • What information might her work placement coordinator have?
  • Is there anyone else relevant to the situation that may have information? (other lecturers, her peers or other students etc.)
2. What is Bec feeling?
  • She is feeling really stressed
  • She is afraid that she won’t pass
3. What’s really important?

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

Bec says she wants to meet the criteria and objectives set out in the subject outline in order to pass the placement. If we asked her to explain why meeting the criteria and objectives and passing the placement is such an issue for her, she might have other reasons such as:

  • This is her last opportunity to gain valuable knowledge, skills and experience in a field she wants to work in after she graduates from University
  • She wants to use this experience to put on her resume to get a summer job
  • She needs to be marked off as satisfactory on this placement in order to pass her degree
  • Her friends and family keep asking how the placement is going and she wants to have more interesting experiences to tell them about

If Bec takes some time to really think about what is important to her she might be able to make a more informed decision about what to do next.

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