The Office of Student Conduct offers a variety of resources that may help you navigate and resolve interpersonal conflicts that you may be experiencing. Our goal is to provide resources and support that help you learn to respond to conflict peacefully and respectfully. We encourage you to review this page for resources and to see if participating in a conflict resolution pathway may be a method to resolve a conflict you are experiencing.

You may also choose to submit a Conflict Resolution Referral to receive additional follow-up regarding your conflict.

Please contact us at 336-278-7271 or conflictresolution@elon.edu if you have additional questions about our conflict resolution resources.

What is conflict?

Interpersonal conflict is a normal experience that most people experience, especially college students who are sharing spaces with others (i.e. roommates, classmates, or peers in clubs or student organizations). We believe that it is helpful to describe interpersonal conflict as the struggle that occurs when two or more people perceive that expectations were not met.

Interpersonal conflict may be expressed verbally, such as finding yourself arguing with another, or nonverbally, such as notes left for another to read or ignoring someone. Often, those involved may not even realize the ways they are contributing to the conflict or may not feel that shared expectations were clearly communicated.

When faced with conflict, our natural response may be to avoid the person. However, we believe that to effectively resolve a conflict, we must be willing to have difficult conversations that seek to identify the cause of the conflict while valuing each other’s experience and perspective.

Things to keep in mind when navigating interpersonal conflict:

Reflect on the ways you might be contributing.

Sometimes while experiencing interpersonal conflict, we overlook the ways that we might be contributing. This may look like allowing multiple frustrations to build up or not effectively communicating the challenges that we have been experiencing or the expectations that we may have.

When new frustrations arise, they do not always represent the core issue of an interpersonal conflict. So, it’s important to reflect on the ways that we may be contributing to the conflict, think deeply about the impact of our and others’ actions, and identifying needs for moving forward. This helps us better prepare to have that difficult conversation.

Respect the person (or people).

Even though experiencing interpersonal conflict can be frustrating, it’s important that we center all conversations on respecting the person (or people) that we are in conflict.

Respect looks like communicating clearly and kindly the challenges that we are experiencing and providing space for others to do the same. While we may also want to bounce ideas on how to handle a conflict off of friends, it’s important that as you are asking for help, you avoid engaging in actions that may have the effect of isolating, defaming, or otherwise harming others involved. Likewise, it’s important to think through the ways in which your actions can be constructive, and not destructive, to your relationships or experience.

Shared the responsibility.

Remember that it takes more than one person to be in an interpersonal conflict, and you cannot effectively resolve it without working together with the person (or people) you are in a conflict with. Because conflict doesn’t feel good to anyone involved, addressing the issue together provides an opportunity for all people involved to share their perspectives, experiences, and needs. People who are able to empathize with the experiences of others are in a much better position to identify a solution that will last.

Conflict Resolution Pathways

While we always encourage you to attempt to resolve conflicts on your own, sometimes you may find that it is helpful to use additional resources to help navigate these difficult conversations. Our Office offers a selection of services that may be useful for some conflicts between students. Our goal is to either provide you with tools to handle these challenging conversations on your own or help facilitate communication that will work towards identifying ways to resolve your conflict.

Conflict Coaching

Meet with conflict coach to gain guidance on how to navigate interpersonal conflict more effectively and independently.

Who’s involved? A conflict coach will meet with the student who is seeking guidance.

How does it work? Your conflict coach will find time to connect with you to talk more about the interpersonal conflict you are experiencing and strategies that you may have used so far. After this, your conflict coach will help you create a plan to address the conflict on your own and may provide additional resources they feel will be helpful to you.

Facilitated Dialogue

A facilitator will help guide a dialogue between parties to help them gain a better understanding of each other’s experiences.

Who’s involved? A facilitator will meet with all parties who are in conflict individually and together.

How does it work? Your facilitator will find time to connect with you and the person (or people) you are in conflict with to find out more about the interpersonal conflict that is occurring, strategies already used, and any goals that may overlap. These meetings may start individually (or as groups with shared interests) before bringing everyone together. From there, your facilitator will plan dialogue to help you all understand each other’s perspectives and experiences.

Mediation

A mediator will serve as a third party to coordinate a structured meeting aimed at resolving an interpersonal conflict and crafting a solution for those involved.

Who’s involved? A mediator will meet with all parties who are at conflict individually and together.

How does it work? Your mediator will find time to connect with you and the person (or people) you are in conflict with to find out more about the interpersonal conflict that is occurring, strategies already used, and any goals that may overlap. From there, your mediator will plan meeting to help you communicate concerns that are causing conflict with the goal of identifying a solution.

Restorative Circle*/Conversation

A facilitator will provide space and guidance for students willing to take responsibility for harmful behavior that impacted others and are willing to work collaboratively create an action plan to repair harm caused and restore community trust. To continue, someone must be willing to acknowledge that their actions negatively impacted others and be interested in repairing the harm caused.

Who’s involved? A facilitator will meet with the person (or people) taking responsibility for harmful behavior and those impacted by the behavior.

How does it work?

The facilitator will find time to connect with those impacted involved to better understand what occurred and the impact of those actions on individuals and/or the community. From there, the facilitator will find time to connect with the person (or people) who engaged in the behavior. They may be asked to share context on what occurred from their perspective and the facilitator may share how others perceived or were impacted by their behavior. After these pre-circle/conference meetings, the facilitator will design and schedule a circle or conference with those impacted, the person (or people) taking responsibility, and any additional support people. This meeting will provide equal, respectful, and responsible space for sharing, understanding, and sometimes healing. The circle or conference concludes with an action plan designed by all involved that each participant holds themselves (and each other) accountable to.

*Circles can also be modified to fit different needs that may or may not be related to conflict such as community builders, values exploration or clarifications, or healing circles (where no one is available to take responsibility).

Additional Restorative Options

In meeting with the individuals experiencing interpersonal conflict, the staff in the office of student conduct may suggest and support following up on alternative restorative options. Options may include written expression of the conflict/perceived conflict, apology notes, or other options agreed upon with the parties.

How do I get more information?

Students wanting to learn more about conflict resolution resources should contact us at conflictresolution@elon.edu or 336-278-7271, or submit a Conflict Resolution Referral regarding your conflict for further follow-up.