Conflict Exercises


What is conflict?

Conflict is when two or more people have different opinions about something.


Ask students to say out loud words that define, OR how it is related to conflict.

Discuss these words with them.

Sort out words with negative relation to conflict on one side of the board and those with positive relation on the other.

Ask students to come up to the board one after the other, writing their chosen word on the side of the board they think best fits.

Use this exercise as a good scenario on discussing some benefits of conflict (it is an opportunity for change, renewal of relationships, etc.).


Select two students to role play (act) – sample scripts below.

A: “I was right by the goal line! Why didn’t you pass me the ball?”

B: “Daniel asked for a pass!”


Continue with a class discussion/ questions ex.:

  • • Who are the parties in the conflict?
  • • What may each persons in the conflict be thinking?
  • • What were the parties feeling? 
  • • What are each person’s motivations?
  • • What does each person need?




Types of conflict


Draw four circles on the board.

In each one of the circles write the following:

Circle 1• Conflict within people (intrapersonal).

Circle 2• Conflict between people (interpersonal).

Circle 3• Conflict within groups (intergroup).

Circle 4• Conflict between groups (intergroup).

Discuss scenarios that students may have experienced or seen any of the following types of conflicts (ex. happened in school or happened somewhere else)




Where do these types of conflict happen? __________________________________

(Ex. Locker room, bus stop, hallway, cafeteria, on the way to school)


Note to teacher:

Students need to learn and to understand that conflict is all around us.

These different types of conflicts, often have different methods of handling these conflicts.

The way we handle a conflict determines the overall outcome of the conflict.

We can influence the outcome of a conflict in many positive ways.



  • • Conflict is a part of life–it can be a positive part.
  • • Depending on how we deal with it, conflicts can turn out to be good or bad.
  • • A conflict is likely to show up each time we interact with someone because people’s desires and expectations may not be the same.
  • • All conflicts should be dealt with as soon as possible, so they don’t grow into worse scenarios.



Definition and Content


Conflict Styles

  • Avoiding Both Issue and relationship are unimportant.
  • Accommodating Relationship is more important than the issue.
  • Forcing The issue is more important than the relationship.
  • Compromising Cooperation is important (give a little, get a little).
  • Collaborating Relationship and issue are both important (takes more time).

Ask yourself the following questions when analyzing your conflict style in a particular situation:

  • • How is this conflict style working for you?
  • • What are your needs, and are they being met?
  • • What outcome could using this conflict style lead to?
  • • Are you satisfied with the outcome of this conflict style?
  • • Are there some situations in which you change your conflict style?
  • • Are conflict styles situational?
  • • What would it take for you to change your conflict style?
  • • What effect will the new style have on the outcome?






Clenched Fist

Students pair up with partners and one student clenches his or her fist.

As a team, figure out a way to unclench this student’s fist (within 30 seconds).



  • What happened?
  • How did you get the person to unclasp his or her fist?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What did you do to overcome the challenges?


Reflecting on personal conflict styles

Guide the students to quietly reflect on a recent conflict in which they were part of.

Allow them to share the conflict style with their partners.



  • • There are many ways to approach a conflict.
  • • Conflicts most often arise from decisions based on the importance of issues and/or relationships.
  • • A conflicts outcome is generally determined by the way the conflict is handled.



Conflict Outcomes

  • • Win-Win
  • • Win-Lose
  • • Lose-Win
  • • Lose-Lose




  • • How did you approach the conflict?
  • • What conflict style did you use?
  • • Did both of you feel satisfied?
  • • If you could be in the conflict again, what style would you use?



  • • Conflict styles are based on the issue, and the situation on the significance of the relationship, and personal values.
  • • The conflict style that you choose directly affects the conflict’s outcome.



  • Understanding other’s perspectives.
  • Helps us have improved relationships.
  • Helps us to be more effective communicators.
  • Opens our potential to learning and understanding others.




Perception Circle


  1. Guide the students to form a circle.
  2. Choose a student to begin the activity- this will be student # 1.
  3. Student # 1 will whisper a word in the ear of the student sitting close him or her.
  4. That student will then turn to the next person and whisper the first word that comes into his or her mind.
  5. Allow the process to loop until everyone has taken part in the activity.
  6. Before commencing, remind the class that at the end everyone will say his or her word out loud in front of the entire group.
  7. Encourage them to pay attention to what is happening in their groups.



  • • What did they learn from the activity?
  • • What is point of view? ________ (how you see the world)
  • • What is it that affects your point of view? __________

  (Gender, role, time of day, birth order, finances, culture, etc.)





  • Bias–A preference that affects judgment.
  • Prejudice–Acting on a bias; choice based on bias.



This activity is intended to teach students about point of view and perception.

They will understand that not everyone thinks the same since we come from different experiences, families, and backgrounds and hence have unique point of views/ perception.


Read these scenarios to the class.

  • • A new student sits at your usual cafeteria table.
  • • A student walks up to your bus stop wearing faded jeans with many holes.
  • • A friend orders a certain type of drink: Coke, Diet Coke, water…

Now ask these two questions:

  • • What personal assumptions did we make in these situations?
  • • Where do these assumptions come from?



When we get to understand others’ perceptions, we eventually realize that we all have biases. Everyone has different backgrounds, experiences, family dynamics, etc., and so everyone has different perceptions of reality.

We only get to realize and respect others’ differences when are aware of our unique perceptions and those of others around us.



Note to teacher:

Ask the students to listen with an open mind, refrain from making judgmental statements about the students’ responses, and request privacy.

  • • What prejudices do you see in our building?
  • • What is it about you that might provoke a response in others that doesn’t reflect “the real you”?
  • • Share a time when you’ve been treated in a prejudicial way.




  • • A natural way of understanding the world we live in is by perceptions and biases; however, we don’t need to act on them.
  • • It takes awareness of perception to provide the understanding that leads to a change.
  • • Make no assumptions; take time to get to know the person.




  • • Adding these skills to our catalogue helps us resolve conflicts flawlessly and more effectively.




Ask for two student volunteers to act out the following scenarios.


  • Person A: You’ve recently bought a pair of expensive shoes. Your friend broke into your gym locker and wrote all over them with a permanent marker. They’re ruined. You feel hurt and violated.
  • Person B: Your friend’s been bragging about his or her expensive shoes to everyone.

Yesterday he or she made fun of the way you were dressed in front of your entire class.

You felt humiliated and angry, and you wanted to teach him/her a lesson, so you broke into his or her gym locker and wrote all over the shoes.


DISCUSSION: Discuss with the students that these are bad ways of solving conflicts between people and that they will need to give analysis of what went wrong later on.


Person A: “Hey, why did you touch my stuff?”

Person B: “Whoa, I didn’t think this would be such a big deal…”

Person A: “You’re lying. You totally blew this whole thing out of proportion. Now my shoes are ruined, and they were really expensive. I’m so angry about this!”

Person B: “But you –”

Person A: (Interrupting) “I don’t want to hear it. You’re always putting words in my mouth.”

Person B: “Who cares about the shoes? Your parents can just buy you another pair. They buy you everything else you want.”

Person A: “You don’t know me. You don’t know my parents.”

Person B: “Yeah, I do. You’re all stuck-up. How does it feel to have the nasty shoes now?”



Ask the class what they think might have intensified the conflict.

Write their opinions on the board.

What might the students might have used to curb the conflict?

Propose using the opposites of the words they used that intensified the conflict.

Write down their suggestions on a separate place on the board.



Hints for dealing with conflicts on a one-to-one basis:


Unless emotions are worked through, issues can’t be solved.

A long-term relationship is generally more important than a conflict in both individual and group situations.

The process of resolving a conflict is as important as the content itself.

It is important to note that a resolution with one party being voted winner over the other is no resolution.


This helps to break down role typecasts.


Honesty and clearly stating problems will make it easier for the conflict to be resolved.


Communication will help a big deal in resolving the conflict.

Listening, paraphrasing, and good feedback show concern for the other person, will facilitate communication, defuse conflict, and lower tension making it easier for an agreement to be reached


Use this as a basis from which to work through the problem.


Confine yourself to one issue at a time and don’t just complain.

Ask for reasonable changes that will relieve the grievance.


This helps in making sure that you are heard, and to assure the other person that you understand his or her point of view.


Never assume that you know what the other person is thinking until you have checked out the assumption. Do not predict what he or she will accept or reject or how he or she will react.


Changes can’t be reversed; however, it can help a big deal in resolving future conflicts.



  1. Guide the class to stand in a circle.
  2. Call up 2 new volunteers to act the parts of Persons A and B.
  3. Put them in the center of the circle.
  4. Direct them to begin the scene again, this time using the class’s suggestions and the steps for resolving interpersonal conflict.
  5. As people in the outer circle think of ways to incorporate the new steps they’ve learned into the scene, they may tap an actor on the shoulder and take his or her place.
  6. The previous actor will then re-join the outer circle.



  • After the exercise is over, ask students to work with a partner and reflect on a conflict they’ve had with someone else.
  • How could they have used these new steps?
  • Would these have curbed the conflict?
  • Why or why not?



  • • Remember that these steps are always available to you during a conflict.
  • • They often help reduce the conflict.
  • • These steps equally help you to see the other person’s point of view or perspective.
  • • Your perspectives might be different from theirs.




  • Improved ability to resolve conflicts.
  • Improved relationships.
  • Better understanding of others.
  • Higher awareness of different communication styles.
  • Better awareness of self and how we communicate with others.
  • Become a more critical consumer of mass media.
  • Better feelings and ability to relate to others.


  1. Guide students to make a back to back pair up.
  2. One person will talk for 30 seconds about his or her weekend activities while the other person listens without them looking at each other and or making physical contact.
  3. Then reverse the roles and repeat Step 2.



  • • What did this feel like?
  • • Did this way of speaking feel natural? Why or why not?
  • • Did you feel like you missed anything in what the other person said?
  • • Is it important to see the other person as you’re talking to them? Why or why not?

Definition and Content

Nonverbal communication can include the following:

  • Facial expressions
  • Posture
  • Eye contact
  • Leaning forward
  • Nodding
  • Showing empathy
  • Open body posture
  • Hand gestures
  • Appropriate encouragers (uh-uh, oh, no, ok, yeah)


  1. Ask for two volunteers.
  2. Make them understand they will be having a discussion about their plans for summer in front of the class.
  3. Now ask the selected volunteers to wait in place out of hearing range; preferably outside the class.
  4. While they are out of hearing, ask the rest of the class to observe both volunteers body language during the conversation.
  5. Ask the volunteers to come back in. Let the class form a circle around them and let them proceed with the dialog.


Processing for the class

  • • What body language did you observe?
  • • What was the effect of that language?
  • • What kept the other person talking?
  • • What shut the other person down?
  • • How do you know that the listener was actually listening to the person speaking?


Processing for the two volunteers

  • • When you were talking, what did the other person do to make you want to talk more?
  • • When you were talking, what did the other person do to make you stop talking?


  • • Most often, nonverbal cues are more important than what is actually being communicated.
  • • You will understand well what is really happening if you pay close attention and observe the nonverbal.
  • • Ensure that the verbal and nonverbal cues match. Always ask the speaker to clarify where necessary.


Learning active listening technics like paraphrasing, summarizing, clarifying, encouraging, listening for feelings and also identifying good and poor listening skills


  • Increased understanding of others.
  • Higher awareness of different communication styles.
  • Better awareness of self and how we communicate with others.
  • Improved ability to analyze mass media.
  • Improved ability to resolve conflicts.
  • Improved relationships.
  • To help each participant learn and practice active listening skills.
  • Better feelings and ability to relate to others.

ACTIVITY Hot Seat Activity (Part 1)

  1. Guide the students to form a circle.
  2. Pick one student to start the activity.
  3. Ask the volunteer to take his chair to the center of the circle.
  4. The student in the center dynamically answers questions from the topic under discussion from participants in the circle.
  5. The volunteer in the center however can freely pass on any question.
  6. After the volunteer receives three questions from circle member, another student sits in the center.
  7. This goes on for an agreed time frame (10 minutes) after which the activity is dismissed.



After the activity, ask which type of questions got a more comprehensive reply.

  • • Closed-ended questions _____________ (usually elicits a brief response or one-word answer)
  • • Open-ended questions _______________ (open-ended questions cannot be answered with a yes, no, or very brief response)

Definition and Content

Effective questioning–three quick tips

  1. Is this an open-ended question?
  2. Does it give people a chance for more detail and personal explanation about what happened?
  3. Examples include…how, help me understand, explain, etc.
  4. Does this question sound accusatory to the person?
  5. Example: why; why may be interpreted as probing or accusing.
  6. Did you use active listening, repeating facts and feelings about the answer after the person answered your question?


ACTIVITY Hot Seat Activity continued (Part 2)

Continue the hot seat activity. However, ask the students to identify if each question is closed-ended or open-ended.


How do you distinguish between open-ended and closed-ended questions?

What alteration can you make to shift a closed-ended question to an open-ended question?

ACTIVITY Hot Seat Activity continued (Part 3)

In this round, ask for only open-ended questions. If you get a closed-ended answer from the respondent, ask a supplementing question that is open-ended.


What enhancements does this activity pose on the curriculum or more effective questioning?


  • • Open-ended questions tend to incite more information and more detail.
  • • Open-ended questions help in meticulous investigation of the issues.
  • • Open-ended questions help clarify feelings.
  • • You may not get the response you expected from a question; In this case, try restating the      question or ask it in a different approach.
  • • There is no flawless question.
  • • Good questioning techniques depend on the speaker’s response as they are an art, not exact science.


Understanding empathy, I-messages, reframing, de-escalation, tips on ways to handle difficult conversations, and confrontation techniques.


  • Be able to improve relationships.
  • Be aware and recognize your own feelings.
  • Be able to de-escalate situations.
  • Be able to demonstrate leadership abilities
  • Be able to speak from your own perspective.
  • A part of being a good citizen?
  • Be more confident and assertive.


  1. Think back to times when you just started school or sitting alone. How did you feel?
  2. Ask a volunteer to write them on the chalkboard.


  • • Have you heard of empathy? What does it mean?

Empathy ______________ (is the ability of assuming yourself in someone else’s position or situation).

  • • How does your understanding of empathy help you see others in similar situations?

It gives you the opportunity of getting to know how others feel and enhances your relation with others. 


  1. Guide the students to choose partners.
  2. One student ran into you and all your textbooks fell to the ground.
  3. The student who ran into you walked away.

How do you react?

What options do you have?

How are you feeling?

Techniques in handling difficult conversations/situations- suggestions:

  • First, relax and take a deep breath.
  • Don’t be quick to assume or judge.
  • Give keen ears to the other person’s point of view and where they might be coming from.
  • Speak from your own perception.
  • Consider what you contribute to the conflict and remember that it takes two people to maintain a conflict and not you alone.
  • You can only be liable for yourself and change the way you respond to the situation.
  • Try not to think selfishly; instead, try making out options to calm you both.

Some explicit communication techniques to employ are:

  • I Statements: Making clear your views:

I feel ____ (name the feeling) ____when ____ (describe the behavior) ___

because___ (provide the reason) ___

I need ___ (tell what would make it better for you) ____.

  • Reframing: Alters negative or hostile language rendering them neutral language.

Example: You are so stupid. Reframe: You made a mistake on the math test.

  • Confrontational techniques:

Start by using a positive statement. “I enjoy our friendship.”

Give an explanation of the issue or situation. “I’m hurt that you talk behind my back.”

Conclude with a positive statement. “I want to continue our friendship.”


  1. Allow the students to pick out a possible situation:
  • Sitting in the cafeteria.
  • Sitting on the bus.
  1. Next a friend starts to spend more time with another friend thus leaving you out.
  2. Practice implementing the previously mentioned techniques (I-statements, reframing, and confrontational techniques).


  • What were the results after diligently applying the above techniques?
  • How did you feel about yourself?
  • Did you achieve your goal by applying these techniques?
  • Did it help in improving your relationship?



  • • You will continue to get the same results if you use the same patterns of behavior, and you will likely not be satisfied each time as this will not help in overcoming difficult conversations and situations.
  • • Implementing new conflict resolution techniques will aid in new and better results, and give you a better feeling about yourself.
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