Don’t forget the classic tools


wrench-503131_1920In the last few posts I have been exploring different facets about how to resolve conflict in the diverse adult education classroom. This mainly revolves around taking the intercultural aspects into consideration such as tolerance for ambiguity and the role of the teacher (leader) in the classroom.

This post is a reminder not to forget to use the classic tools of conflict resolution too. In the M-HOUSE European project, we included a module on conflict resolution as part of our course to uncover entrepreneurial skills in adults who have long experience of running a household. One of these acquired skills was conflict resolution. It is likely that in running a household you will have had conflicts to resolve and these skills can be transferred to an entrepreneurial context.

In that module we recommended the Interest-Based Relational Approach as described here. The approach is based on separating the issues from the people in the following steps:

  1. Prioritise good relationships by being respectful with all parties.
  2. Separate the people from the problems
  3. Listen first, talk second
  4. Collate the observable facts
  5. Explore possible solutions
  6. Negotiate the best available solution

This is a basic framework for conflict resolution that we can use as the basis for resolving conflict in the diverse adult education classroom. The steps above are for the detached observer or facilitator. But what if you are one of the protagonists? Then you will need negotiation skills as described in the video below.

The steps outlined above take time and it will be a fine judgement whether the issue under conflict is worth spending time on or whether you should just stick to the lesson plan. But given the mantra about the critical importance of maintaining relationships, it may be wise to err on the side of caution and go through the conflict resolution process rather than not, whenever you are in doubt.

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