Conflict is Going to Happen
As much as we want to think that camp life is all sunshine and rainbows, the fact of the matter is, conflicts are going to happen. Albeit they are minor in the grand scheme of life, but nevertheless conflicts are never enjoyable at the time.
I believe conflict is a byproduct of comfort. When we get too comfortable, we create expectations. Expectations of people, of ourselves, maybe even of a situation. However, when expectations collide with reality, that is what causes conflicts to arise.
The reality is that you have young adults navigating, working, and living together. On top of that, they have a blend of maturity levels, differing levels of self-esteem and contrast of interests. The pressure cooker that is working at an overnight summer camp will come to boil at times.
Now more than ever, verbal face to face communication has plummeted and the challenge for all of us at summer camp - camper or staff - is to reconnect. This is vital in conflict resolution. We need to find courage within ourselves, and build the skills to speak to each other face to face, rather than hiding behind our keyboard.
How can you resolve a conflict or argument between your peers? This is a question that can potentially be pretty difficult to navigate. You might not know each other yet. You might be older than them, but they have more knowledge or experience. I follow these steps:
Observation: ‘Say what is going on’ Be honest but not rude about what is concerning you. You should also allow others involved to do the same thing.
Feelings: ‘Own your own feelings’
Explain how it makes you feel. If you know you get overwhelmed in these sorts of conversations - I know I do - take some notes into the discussion to help you stay on track.
Needs & Requests: ‘Share what you need and request from others’
Be open and vulnerable to say what you need from that other person. This is a huge hurdle most people trip up on. They say how they feel and then stop, and sweep the rest under the rug and nothing gets resolved. You need to share what you need or request so that it does not happen again. This allows you to find that common ground with others.
Listen to understand, do not listen to respond.
The top tip I have ever received is: listen to understand, do not listen to respond. This is the best advice I have heard (and I use this in my everyday life). Most of the time arguments or conflicts can be heated. You have so much you want to get off your chest that you do not actually listen to what the other person has to say, you just want to get your viewpoint across. Taking this advice has changed the way I approach disagreements and has allowed a calmer, more conversational way for reconciliation.
Being involved in resolving arguments or conflicts can have a positive impact. It allows you to see situations through a different lens which can help you grow and mature. Seeing that personal growth over time is a fantastic learning experience. It has helped me become a better leader. It has also helped me navigate my way through disagreements, preventing them from turning into something bigger than they had to be. It has allowed me to understand people’s thought processes. It has opened my eyes to the fact that the saying ‘my way or the highway’ might not always be correct.