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College Success Tip #47 - Handling Classroom Conflict

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Matthew 18:15

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

College is full of opportunities for students to experience some of their best days. College is also a place where some of the most challenging situations will occur in one’s life. Some of those challenges are personal off campus issues and unfortunately some of the challenges higher education students face are on campus issues related to conflicts with professors and peers.

Conflicts arise when individuals express differing viewpoints on issues and sometimes a difference in opinions can become a battle zone due to how individuals state their opinions and varying emotions.

I’ve witnessed classroom conflict among peers who were working in a group and couldn’t come to a consensus on when to meet for group assignments or who would serve as the leader for the group.

I’ve witnessed individuals go off on their peers because they felt left out of a group project, but there was a misunderstanding.

I’ve witnessed full on shouting matches in the classroom, as a higher education student. During these shouting matches I aimed toward the EXIT because I don’t like a lot of yelling and arguing. (In every area where an assembly of people are, you can always catch me by the EXIT door just in case something pops off.)

Sadly, I’ve witnessed professors attack student beliefs as it relates to their Christian God-honoring values.

I’ve witnessed professors blatantly tell students to QUIT SCHOOL, DROP OUT, because they were single parents or married.

I’ve witnessed professors purposefully create opportunites for students to not thrive in the classroom because the professor created obstacle courses aimed to cause the student to fail, all whilst they laugh and rub it in their face.

I’ve witnessed professors not take their job seriously and play with students but when things get out of hand and it’s time to take control to teach the required curriculum, they can’t because they demoted their position of authority to be promoted as a friend with students.

I’ve witnessed classmates disrespect others because they think of school as a competition willing to step on anyone’s neck to get by.

Now with all of the scenarios I’ve witnessed which is not nearly the beginning of all of the conflicting challenges one can face on campus, it is important on how to conduct yourself in a situation and what to do.

When Cantankerous professors and peers find their way to you, how will you handle them?

Below are 7 Recommended tips for Higher Education students when dealing with Classroom Conflict:

1. Don’t Automatically Respond - Sometimes when we respond during conflict especially when it is heated, we do and say things we regret. So, don’t automatically respond, process what is going on around you.

2. Breath/Take a Break – Once again before responding breath! Cool down, calm down and refocus. Sometimes when we feel misunderstood and wronged we want people to understand our point of view immediately at all cost, but that is the wrong approach. The truth will be revealed so take a break and come back at a less stressful, tension filled time.

3. Pray – Now that you’ve taken a break, you are breathing and you have aimed to not respond in haste, go before the LORD and prayer and ask for wisdom, knowledge and understanding as you converse with your professor or peer. Also repent if you have thought or said something that wasn’t pleasing in God’s sight. Although we are not perfect don’t condemn yourself and feel guilty, but aim towards the target of living a life that Honors God in his will, word and way. Also ask God for direction and guidance on how to handle the situation. Go to God first before telling your homegirl or homeboy who is your hype man or your family member because they might rev you up and you are going a different direction than what God requires of you.

4. Check your Emotions – When you address the issue with the person make sure that you check your emotions. Sometimes lingering emotions impact one’s response. It’s ok to be disappointed or even upset but don’t allow your emotions to dictate and rule the conversation. Focus on the issue not your emotions.

5. Focus on Your Tone – It’s not what you say but how you say it, is a phrase my Daddy has told me for years. You might be right in what you say, but your tone is everything. Aim towards speaking in a non-threatening tone and neutral tone that doesn’t intimidate the other person or give them an excuse to be on the offense or defense. Although you can't control how they feel, you aim to communicate in the most respectful way you can.

6. Respectfully Approach – When dealing with an issue aim to not charge at someone like a bull. Respectfully approach them whether it is face to face, via email or text.

7. Monitor Body language and text language – When addressing a conflict individuals can communicate respectfully. When face to face with someone be sure to keep your hands down and aim to keep your hands behind your back or use them in a non-threatening way. For example, don’t go in someone’s face clapping your hands making points that you believe are valid that you think they should grasp and understand. (I guarantee that will add to the conflict and another issue will arise.)

Also, as it relates to text language in an email or text message aim to not use a lot of emoji’s, CAPITAL LETTERS, or WORDAGE THAT IS IN DIFFERENT COLORS, BOLD, ENLARGED, SLANTED WITH A LOT OF SPECIAL Characters *$#%^&*!!! (That is another sure way to exacerbate the issue.)

Aim to leave at peace with others!

Peace & God Bless,

Aiming Towards the Target,

Dr. Bryant

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