Can’t We All Just Get Along? Conflict Resolution Strategies

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites
  • Lesson Identification and TEKS Addressed

    Cluster : Human Services

    Course : Counseling and Mental Health

  • TEKS Student Expectations

    • (2) The student demonstrates verbal and nonverbal communication skills. The student is expected to:
      • (C) implement communication skills that are responsive rather than reactive
    • (3) The student researches career options and the preparation necessary for employment in mental health. The student is expected to:
      • (C) justify the consequences of decisions
      • (D) demonstrate techniques of peer mediation, problem solving and negotiation
  • Basic Direct Teach Lesson

    Instructional Objectives

    Students will:

    • review steps to solving conflicts in different situations
    • brainstorm solutions to personal and workplace conflicts
    • be provided with various opportunities to demonstrate effective communication skills – verbal, non-verbal, written and electronic
  • Rationale


    What are appropriate methods of conflict resolution? Conflict is an inevitable part of life. The way that we handle conflict in personal and professional settings will shape our lives and the perceptions that others have of us. Learning to manage conflict is difficult because emotions often control our reactions during conflict. Many people take the act of communicating for granted. When they speak or listen, they assume that the message given or received is being understood. In reality, most messages are distorted, incomplete or lost on their way from one person to another. One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. As a mental health provider, it is vital to have good communication skills.

  • Duration of Lesson

    Three 45 minute class periods

  • Word Wall

    Communication: The process of sending and receiving messages from others

    Conciliatory: To make (someone) more friendly or less angry

    Conflict: A disagreement, dispute or fight between people with opposing points of view

    Conflict resolution: The process of settling a conflict by cooperating and problem solving

    Defensive: Behaving in a way that shows that you feel people are criticizing you

    Empathy: The skill of thinking about what it would be like in another’s place

    Interpersonal Skills: The ability to relate to others in a socially appropriate, meaningful way

    I-statements: Your expression of thoughts, feelings and ideas. The speaker takes responsibility for his or her own emotions and actions

    Leadership: The ability to motivate others to cooperate when completing a common task

    Mediation: Intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement or compromise

    Nonverbal communication: Body language, eye contact, appearance and facial expressions

    Resolution: The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict or problem

    Teamwork: Learning to effectively communicate, resolve conflicts and develop negotiation skills

    Techniques: Methods of doing some task or performing something

    Verbal communication: Voice and tone

    You-statements: Are negative statements and often place blame or attack the receiver

  • Materials/Specialized Equipment Needed


    • computer with projector for PowerPoint™ presentation
    • computers with Internet access (be sure to follow district guidelines)


    • basket


    • cardstock
    • magazine pictures of people and situations that show conflict

    • copies of handouts (see All Lesson Attachments tab)
  • Anticipatory Set

    Prior to class:

    Become familiar with PowerPoints™, handouts and activities.

    Teacher note: Become familiar with Wordle. It is a tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts and color schemes.

    You can either use Sample of Charade Topics or the handout in which you can provide your own charade topics on Charade Topics (see All Lesson Attachments tab). Print handout on cardstock and cut apart charade cards. Place cards in a bowl or basket.

    Print and cut apart the Conflict Resolution Scenarios – Counseling and Mental Health on cardstock (see All Lesson Attachments tab). The cards will be placed in a basket and used in an activity during Independent Practice. Some cards have been left blank so that other scenarios may be added.

    Before class begins:

    Display as many of the lesson-related supplies (see Materials or Specialized Equipment Needed) as you have available on a table in front of the room.

    As students enter the classroom, allow them to observe the images of people who are in a conflict with others.

    Ask students the following questions:

    • Have you ever had a disagreement with another person?
    • How did you resolve that disagreement?
    • Were you able to compromise and settle the disagreement?
    • What are some other ways to practice constructive conflict resolution?
    • Can you recall the last conflict you had with an individual?
    • Did you resolve it? How was it resolved?
    • What happens if there is conflict at a place of employment?
    • How do you normally handle conflict?

    Lead a discussion about conflict and how it affects individuals.

    Remove chairs and tables/desks and ask the students to sit in a conversation circle on the floor when they enter (like they may have done in elementary school).

    What words come to mind when you think of the word “communication”? Assign a scribe to write the words on the board. Using Wordle, create a word cloud with the words provided by the students. You may opt to print the final Wordle and display it in the classroom for the duration of the lesson.

    You will be playing a verbal and nonverbal communication game with the students.

    • Verbal communication game – Pass the Telephone. Have students sit in a circle. Ask one student to think of a phrase or sentence. Direct them to whisper it in the ear of the person sitting next to them. You may pass the rotary telephone to each student to use as they are whispering to each other. Each student whispers what they think they heard to the next student next to them. The last student says the phrase or sentence out loud. Ask the first student if that was his or her phrase. Did anything change? Did the message get lost or changed in translation? This is an example of verbal communication.
    • Nonverbal communication game – Charades. Pass the basket around with the Charade cards and have each student draw one card. Have students get up one at a time to act out the topic on the card without using any words or sounds while the others guess the topic. Allow time for each student to play the game. This is an example of nonverbal communication.

    Explain that we all communicate all day long, whether or not we are using words. Explain that others pick up messages from our facial expressions, body language, gestures and general demeanor. Begin the discussion with the following questions and have students share their responses:

    • How do you communicate most often?
    • How would you get people to understand you if you could no longer use that form of communication?
    • Ask students to explain what they did to communicate their message when they were unable to use words (ex: facial expressions, body language, gestures).
    • Were others able to guess the phrase or sentence?
    • Was the message delivered effectively?
    • What would your day be like if you could not communicate by telephone or cell phone?
    • How has texting improved your means of communication?
    • What are the disadvantages of texting as a means of communication?
    • In the mental health field, why is it important to have good communication skills?

    Teacher note: You may opt to purchase or obtain a copy of What Was It Like Before the Telephone? by Paul Humphrey, Lynda Stevens (Illustrator). It is elementary reading, but it will give the students an opportunity to think about how life was before the invention of the telephone. How did people communicate?

    Lead students to share and discuss their responses.

  • Direct Instruction with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Introduce lessons, objectives, terms and definitions.

    Distribute graphic organizer Slide Presentation Notes (see All Lesson Attachments tab) so that students may take notes during the slide presentation.

    Introduce PowerPoint™ Can’t We All Just Get Along? Conflict Resolution Strategies (see All Lesson Attachment tab). Allow time for questions and class discussion.

    Using Slide Presentation Notes (see All Lesson Attachments tab), students will have an opportunity to reflect, review and respond to the information pertaining to the PowerPoint™. They will write a summary of questions, topics or statements which reflect the information from the lesson:

    • Discuss the topic
    • Write down your thoughts
    • Make a real-world connection to the lesson
    • How is this going to help you in the future?

    Allow for questions and answers to check for understanding.

    Videos included in the PowerPoint™ presentation:

    • How to Improve Interpersonal Skills
      This VideoJug presentation shows you how to improve your interpersonal skills with the aid of some simple coaching techniques.
    • In the Mix: Peer Mediation — A Process of Respect (Excerpt)
      We visit a diverse small city school that has a variety of pro-active student centered programs in place. When a fight breaks out in the cafeteria, two boys choose to participate in peer mediation rather than face the administration.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • providing students with a copy of the notes or a fill-in-the-blank note sheet to follow along with instruction
    • pairing up students with elbow partners who can assist them with verbal and written responses to the lesson

  • Guided Practice with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Distribute Conflict Resolutions (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout. Tell the students that there are choices they make when they are involved in a disagreement or a conflict. Every choice they make has a consequence. Learning about conflict resolution, or learning about how to work things out peacefully without fighting, running away or going against their own beliefs, can keep them safe from violence, make them feel good about themselves and help them learn to respect others. On the handout they are to describe an incident or problem that occurred to them, their family, a friend or at the workplace and complete the chart with the appropriate information. Please be aware of personal issues so inform students they may opt to change the names on the handout.

    Allow students time to complete the activity. Discuss the handout as a class so that they may share their information.

    Allow for questions and answers to check for understanding.

    Distribute Self-Assessment Communication Survey (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout. Allow students time to complete the survey. Discuss the results of the survey. Ask the following questions:

    • Are you an effective communicator? Why or why not?
    • How can you improve your communication skills?

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • working with a peer tutor
    • participating in a small group/classroom

  • Independent Practice/Laboratory Experience with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Distribute graphic organizer Steps to Resolve Conflicts (see All Lesson Attachments tab) and discuss the importance of solving conflict problems at home, school and in the workplace with your students.

    Place the Conflict Resolution Scenarios – Counseling and Mental Health (see All Lesson Attachments tab) cards in a basket. Some cards have been left blank so that other scenarios may be added.

    Divide the class into groups of four, and allow one person from each group to pick a card from the basket.

    Students should brainstorm possible solutions to the scenarios and document their ideas on the graphic organizer.

    Solutions to the conflict scenarios will be presented in the Lesson Closure section.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • providing specific websites or articles from which students can obtain their research information
    • providing students with a checklist or rubric to help them organize and complete all steps of the process

  • Lesson Closure

    Review lesson plan objectives, terms and definitions.

    Each group can discuss the scenarios that they chose and how they solved the conflict by following the steps to resolve conflicts.

    Distribute Word Chain Activity (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout. Provide students with a topic/lesson title for the activity and a word or terms related to the topic. Have students write the word in the first chain link. Instruct students to think of a word related to the topic that BEGINS with the LAST letter of the word you provided. Their task is to continue adding topic-related terms to the chain links until all links have been completed. An example has been provided for you, as well as a blank template for your use.

  • Summative/End of Lesson Assessment with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Assessments during the lesson:

    • Conflict Resolutions
    • Steps to Resolve Conflicts

    Students will write a one-page reflection of what they have learned from this lesson and how they will apply it to their lives, now and in the future. Content of reflection may include that conflict resolution is a journey and requires continual evaluation and readjustment.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • assisting students with research for assignments
    • modifying assignments if IEP calls for modification
    • giving students copies of slide presentations for study

  • References/Resources


    • Microsoft Clip Art: Used with permission from Microsoft.


    • Sasse, C.R. (2004). Families today. New York: Glencoe/McGraw Hill.



    • How to Improve Interpersonal Skills
      This VideoJug presentation shows you how to improve your interpersonal skills with the aid of some simple coaching techniques.
    • In the Mix: Peer Mediation — A Process of Respect (Excerpt)
      We visit a diverse small city school that has a variety of pro-active student centered programs in place. When a fight breaks out in the cafeteria, two boys choose to participate in peer mediation rather than face the administration.
  • Additional Required Components

    English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Strategies

    • ask students to repeat your instructions back to you to be sure they know what is expected of them before each new phase of the lesson
    • discuss vocabulary in detail and make sure everyone has a firm grasp on it before moving forward with the lesson
    • use graphic organizers and visuals to explain the lesson in detail
    • print fill-in-the-blank handouts of the PowerPoint notes for students to follow along with the lesson
    • provide note-taking assistance using Article Stop and Jot
  • College and Career Readiness Connection

    AchieveTexas Career Cluster Crosswalks

    The Career Cluster Crosswalks housed on the AchieveTexas website provide Texas teachers with a direct connection between their CTE course TEKS and the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Cross-Disciplinary integration are the focus of the CCRS. These college and career readiness standards are essential in the planning and delivery of CTE lessons. The extent to which the integration occurs is determined by the methods and strategies utilized by each teacher.

    Career Cluster Crosswalks for Education and Training, Hospitality and Tourism, and Human Services Career Clusters can be found at:

  • Other Essential Lesson Components

    Enrichment activity

    • Distribute Article Evaluation (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout. Choose three newspaper or magazines articles that are the result of conflict situations. Summarize each report and identify at least two situations that may have contributed to each conflict from the list on the handout.
    • Have students find cartoons, relevant or humorous quotes, anecdotes and jokes relevant to communication skills.
    • Develop scenarios for using and learning communication skills.
    • Have students pair up and sit back to back. One in the pair is given a design and must describe that design to the other student to duplicate. This an activity that demonstrates the challenges of listening and choosing words carefully.

    TED Talks:

    TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). The video below is related to this lesson. Allow students to view the video and lead a discussion concerning the TED Talk.

  • Family/Community Connection

    • Invite a communications specialist to speak to the class on the importance and impact of nonverbal communication.
    • Have students conduct a survey of family and friends over the topic “Digital Communication: Is it Personal or Nonpersonal?” Share their results with the class.
  • CTSO connection

    Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

    National Program – STOP the Violence: The FCCLA Students Taking On Prevention (STOP) the Violence program empowers youth with attitudes, skills and resources in order to recognize, report and reduce youth violence.

    Star Events:

    • Leadership – An individual event – recognizes participants who actively evaluate and grow in their leadership potential. Participants use the Student Leadership Challenge and supporting materials, to investigate their leadership ability and develop a mentorship relationship to further their leadership development.
    • Chapter Service Project (Display and Manual): A team event – recognizes chapters that develop and implement an in-depth service project that makes a worthwhile contribution to families, schools and communities. Students must use Family and Consumer Sciences content and skills to address and take action on a community need.
    • Interpersonal Communication – An individual or team event – recognizes participants who use Family and Consumer Sciences and/or related occupations skills and apply communication techniques to develop a project designed to strengthen communication.
  • Service Learning Projects

    Successful service learning project ideas originate from student concerns and needs. Allow students to brainstorm about service projects pertaining to the lesson. For additional information on service learning see

    Upon completion of a service learning project, distribute Service Learning: Demonstrating Communication Skills (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout. Students will describe and evaluate their service learning project and communication skills.

    The students decide to conduct a school-wide canned food drive. Collected cans will be donated to the local food bank. In addition, students want to spend one day volunteering at the food bank facility. Students will practice their communication and service learning skills by:

    • designating, assigning and accepting roles and responsibilities for the project
    • developing a list of needed materials and other resources
    • conducting research on the services provided by the local food bank
    • identifying whether their project idea will meet the needs of the community
    • contacting the general manager of the local food bank to discuss service learning project and opportunity to assist at the food bank facility
    • requesting campus and parental permission and making necessary arrangements with school officials regarding off campus service learning project
    • requesting approval from district officials to participate in project
    • determining a timeline for project
    • identifying costs involved
    • determine and implement marketing strategies (create posters, announcements, flyers)
    • developing a plan for collecting, storing and delivering of canned foods
    • research location/distance between food bank and school
    • transportation needs
    • schedule the delivery trip
    • deliver all the canned foods collected
  • All Attachments