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Dealing with conflict

Conflict — or disagreement — is a part of life. We know facing conflict can be scary. But if you avoid conflict, you may feel sad or frustrated. It can also stop you from being treated well or getting things you need. Check out tips below for handling conflict. You also can read about special kinds of conflict.

7 tips for handling conflict

Here are some smart steps to help you deal with conflict. Click below for more info.

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» 1. Cool off.

Yelling, using insults, or being sarcastic will make matters worse. Try these tips to calm down:

  • Count down from 10 to 0.
  • Close your eyes and take deep breaths.
  • Think of a peaceful place or something that makes you happy.
  • Slowly say over and over to yourself, "Take it easy."
  • Take a short walk.

» 2. Keep it real!

Think about what's really bothering you.

  • Did someone say or do something that hurt your feelings?
  • Is this a one-time problem or one that keeps happening?
  • Are you upset now because of something else that upset you in the past?
  • What do you really want in this situation or from this relationship?

» 3. Deal with the issue.

Talk to the other people or person about the conflict. If you don't, they may not know what you're thinking. Plus, your feelings may come out in an unhealthy way. Try these tips:

  • Find a time when you can talk in private.
  • Try to avoid distractions or interruptions.
  • Try to keep your voice calm.
  • Talk about how you feel and what you want instead of blaming the other person. (Hint: Try to start your sentences with "I…" instead of "You…".)

» 4. Listen to the other person's side.

One of you may not be totally wrong, and the other person may not be totally right. You may just see the situation differently. Here are some tips for listening well:

  • Make eye contact to show you are interested in what the other person is saying.
  • Try to see where the other person is coming from.
  • Think about how you may have contributed to the problem.

» 5. Work it out.

Here are some ways to resolve conflict:

  • Keep an open mind. Be willing to accept that the other person makes a good point.
  • Talk about ways to settle the conflict that will meet both of your needs.
  • Try to come up with a specific agreement or plan.
  • Be willing to say you're sorry if you had a part in creating the conflict.
  • Try to forgive and move on.

» 6. Get help if you need it.

Sometimes you need help from someone outside the conflict.

  • Ask friends for ideas. Just don't ask them to choose sides.
  • Turn to an adult who can help. These include parents or guardians, teachers, school nurses, coaches, and counselors.
  • See if your school has a special program (sometimes called mediation (say: mee-dee-ay-shun) programs) that helps students work out problems.

» 7. Walk away.

Sometimes you can't find a way to resolve a conflict.

  • If the other person doesn't want to work it out, try taking a break from the relationship.
  • If the conflict gets physical or the other person is abusive, get help. Read more about unhealthy relationships.

Quick quiz

Think you know how to handle conflicts? Take our test to find out.

Special kinds of conflict arrow. top

You can learn more about:


Content last reviewed September 16, 2015
Page last updated October 27, 2015