The Weekly Reflektion 41/2023

Sometimes conflicts arise and an attempt must be made to resolve these. While not all conflicts have a Major Accident potential, they can undermine the working environment and restrict discussions, hence lead to poor learning and experience transfer. Often conflicts remain unresolved because the parties in the conflict can’t find any common ground to start the process.

How do you approach conflicts?

One of my friends was a maths teacher at a secondary school in Glasgow and has had her fair share of conflicts with the students. She is relatively small and some of the studentstowered over her and were pretty well built. By no means didshe have a physical presence that could daunt them and ensure she had the dominance in any discussion. One day she decided that it was time for a confrontation with two boys in her 4thyear maths class. They were disinterested in the subject and disruptive in the class and she could see that the disruptions were starting to affect the progress for the other students. She arranged a meeting in one of the staff rooms and for a colleague to be close at hand to intervene if things got nasty. She prepared a script where she could get her points across clearly and concisely and she considered how to maintain control of the discussion. When the boys arrived, they came into the room and stood in front of her desk. She got up and then moved around to stand in front of them, not quite face to face, but a demonstration to show that she was not daunted,and she was ready to stand her ground. Before she got started one of boys looked down at her and said, ‘Miss, you’ve got your tee-shirt on inside out’. She looked down, saw that he was right, and started to laugh. The boys also started to laugh,and the tension was broken. When the laughter died down, she asked them to sit down, and they talked about the problems in class. Not as a teacher to two students, but as three people having a discussion. She found herself asking them questions on why they were disinterested and disruptive instead of telling them that their behaviour was unacceptable and that it had to stop. She started to understand more about how they experienced her class and what problems they were strugglingwith. After this meeting there was less tension between herand the two boys, and they were less disruptive. The rest of the class noticed the change and the atmosphere became more of a learning environment rather than trench warfare. The boys did not turn into perfect students by any means, but they did get their ‘O’ grade in maths that year. ‘O’ grade was the academic level for 4th year students in Scotland at that time.

When people are unhappy and complaining about how things are at your facility then this can easily develop into a conflict. Your approach to handling the conflict is key to being able to reach a satisfactory resolution. Getting the conversation off to a good start is important and some humour often helps. Continuous conflicts lead to a poor working environment and create more disgruntled people. This is unlikely to stimulate the positive discussions that are needed to ensure safe and efficient operations and promote learning.

Reflekt AS