At the end of this session, each participant should be able to:
Discuss several ways that good leadership can minimize conflict
Describe how to use EAR as a tool for resolving conflicts. (Express, Address, Resolve)
List several communications skills important for resolving conflicts
• Explain when it is appropriate to involve adult Scout leaders in conflict resolution
Conflicts can occur when people disagreeing with each other seem unable to find a reasonable compromise. The roots of these disagreements can arise from many sources including differences in personality, values, and perceptions.
As a patrol and troop leader, you will occasionally need to handle the differences that arise between members of your troop. Conflicts may be minor or they may fester into something that can damage troop spirit and the ability of the Scouts to work together effectively.
Even with the best leadership, there are bound to be occasional difficulties between two people, between groups of people, or between one person and a number of others. The signs of trouble brewing may be small—someone becoming withdrawn and quiet, for example. Or the signs may be obvious—shouting, high levels of emotion, etc.
If you are a patrol leader or senior patrol leader, you may be in an official role in which you are expected to step in to resolve a conflict. Or you may simply want to help a couple of your friends work through a disagreement.
Whatever the case, there is a proven set of steps to follow to resolve a conflict:
1. Be aware of yourself
2. Be aware of others
4. Use your EAR
How do we respond when we are hearing something we don’t want to hear? When a speaker is angry? When we are tired or hungry?
A key to resolving conflict is being aware of ourselves. If we are upset or angry about something, it may affect how we relate to others.
Be aware of your own emotions. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. If you need to, count to a hundred.
• It may require calling a time-out to let emotions cool down.
Being aware of yourself will help you remain as calm as you can and stay focused on finding a solution. Being aware of others will help you adjust the situation to increase the possibility of a good outcome.
Be aware of their physical comfort, hunger levels, and other factors that could be affecting their emotions. You might want others to take a break before discussing the problem.
Consider the location of a discussion, too. Ideally, you will want to meet out of the hearing of the rest of your group. That will give everyone a chance to air concerns without an audience.
The better the information you have, the greater your chances of finding a workable solution to a conflict.
Listen carefully to what others are saying, withholding judgment until you’ve gotten everyone’s side of the story. (In addition to hearing the words, be aware of tone of voice, body language, and any other clues to whaat a person really means.)
• Understand what each person is expressing—what he wants and what he is willing to do to get there. Then clarify that the solution lies with both parties.
EAR represents three steps in resolving conflicts:
1. Express…What you want and what are you doing to get it.
2. Address…Why is that working or why that is not working.
3. Resolve…What ways there are to solve the situation.
Discuss with the group why these questions, asked in this order, can help resolve conflicts. What is the intent of each question? What is the power of each question?
All of the questions are focused on the person/persons experiencing a conflict. You as the person asking the questions are keeping yourself out of the debate as much as possible. You are offering others a sounding board, a fresh way of thinking about the situation, a chance to figure out answers for themselves.
Of all communications…