Objective: To have students examine productive and unproductive conflict management techniques.
1. Organize the class into small groups of three or four people each.
2. Have each group brainstorm a list of ways that people fight dirty—that is, make a list of ten to fifteen unproductive conflict management strategies. Encourage the students to be as specific as possible.
3. Next, the group should shift focus and brainstorm ten to fifteen productive conflict management strategies, again being specific.
4. Have each group share its list with the rest of the class, and create a master list on the board. Then use these questions as the basis for an in-class discussion:
*Which unproductive conflict management strategies have students used? Why? What was the effect of using these strategies? If someone used this tactic on you, how do you think you would feel?
*Explore similar questions based on the list of productive strategies, and encourage students to explore why we don’t always make the “right” choices during conflicts.
Source: Steven McCornack, Reflect and Relate: An Introduction to Interpersonal Communication, Fourth Edition. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2016.