Advice

Managing Conflict: Tips from Students in the Mind, Body, Wellness Student Organization

We asked members of Mind, Body, Wellness Student Organization how they manage conflict.

Meet the panelists from the Mind, Body, Wellness Student Organization: Maria, Jacqueline (President), Cristyn, and Rae Lynn.

To learn more about managing conflict, attend Managing Professional Conflict with NU Ombudsman, Cris Gilbert on Tuesday, November 17 at 5:30, hosted by CSEA. Register here.

If you would like to write for our December blog (Topic: “Gratitude”), please contribute here.

What’s a conflict you have faced and how have you overcome it?

Jacqueline: An example of a conflict that arises frequently is when students are assigned group projects during some of our classes. Sometimes it goes smoothly, but there are times where peers disagree, and I have been the mediator for the group. I usually try to remind everyone we are on the same team working on the same goal. It is easier to reach consensus when we are reminded we are all on the same boat, we are all learning, and in the end, we all want a good grade.

I usually try to remind everyone we are on the same team working on the same goal.

Photo by Canva Studio on Pexels.com

Cristyn: Conflict seems to be something we can’t get away from, especially this year.  One of the hot button points in my day to day is the controversy over wearing a mask.  Asking anyone to comply with this requirement always feels like walking into a mine field.  I trepidatiously ask, and brace myself for the response. 

Usually the response is, “oh sorry, I forgot,” but occasionally I get the opposite.  My response could be to argue.  My response could be to refuse to serve the customer.  Both of these tactics will ultimately increase agitation.  I try a different approach. 

I talk quieter and take a step back.  Usually by talking quieter, the customer begins to speak quieter.  By stepping back, I am able to maintain my safety by ensuring social distance and also de-escalate the scene by speaking quietly. 

It amazes me how often people mirror each other’s behaviors.  If I’m loud, they get loud, if I’m quiet, they get quiet.  By using this small adjustment in my reaction, the conflict can die off before it really gets a foothold.

I talk quieter and take a step back.  Usually by talking quieter, the customer begins to speak quieter.  By stepping back, I am able to maintain my safety by ensuring social distance and also de-escalate the scene by speaking quietly. 

Rae Lynn: With four family members living, eating, schooling, and working under the same roof for the past seven months, there’s no doubt that conflict has come up.

Whether it’s my children fighting just because there’s nothing else to do, or it’s my husband and I having extra “discussions” because certain expectations have not been met, being with the same people, indoors, 24/7 is a perfect recipe for conflict.

The stress of being constantly at home can start to add up and my family members become short with each other and irritated for no particular reason. Usually, I find that conflict is the symptom of other issues.

COVID-19 oftentimes means we’re all home together–all the time. Go for a walk, take time for you, and clear your head to manage conflict with clarity.

For me, I become more conflict-prone and irritable when I am 1) tired, 2) hungry, 3) stressed, 4) burnt out. One of the best things that I have done when I have found a conflict approaching is to get away.

Athletic young woman of color sits in lotus position next to a dog in a peaceful room
Yoga and other ways to stay active are time-tested stress reducers.

Going outside and taking a jog or a power walk around my neighborhood is a great way to clear my head and deescalate any frustrations that I might be feeling.

Another way to calm conflict is to take a nap. Seriously, what is there that sleep can’t cure!

Eating something or doing a quick run to the Starbucks drive-through also allows me to clear my head and reset. During those times I can reevaluate where I am at and why I am feeling more prone to conflict.

If the result is stress or burnout, a conversation with my spouse or loved ones is the next step. I find that if my husband knows I am having a hard week at work or feeling stressed, he is way more likely to give me the extra time and space I need. Rather than just assuming he understands, I have learned that I need to tell him about my needs.

And when it comes to handling conflict with my kids, like when mom loses it or responds in anger or is easily frustrated, I know that sitting down with them and apologizing for my attitude and actions makes all the difference. They benefit when they see that moms and dads make mistakes, too!

Rather than just assuming he understands, I have learned that I need to tell him about my needs.

What advice would you give to others for handling conflict?

Jacqueline: I like to look at conflict as an opportunity for learning. Make sure you listen to everyone involved and learn from their perspective. Communication is the key to resolving conflict. It is essential not to take anything personal and be open to change and compromise. In the end, it does not matter who was right or wrong; what matters is moving forward in a way that does the greater good for everyone involved.

Maria: When handling conflict, I think it is important to consider how our intervention can make a difference.  Can involving ourselves in conflict make for a positive outcome? Sometimes, depending on the situation, we may even have to consider whether it is safe to intervene, which is always a wise thing to consider. I believe that if our intentions are coming from a good place, and we believe it is safe to involve ourselves, we should.

In the end, it does not matter who was right or wrong; what matters is moving forward in a way that does the greater good for everyone involved.

Taking a step back can help everyone involved. If possible, take the lead in de-escalating the situation.
Photo by Christian Diokno on Pexels.com

Cristyn: We can’t avoid conflict.  We can’t control the feelings of others.  All we can control is how we react to conflict.  We can choose to react negatively and increase tensions, or we can react positively and search for a resolution while maintaining our composure.  My best advice is to really understand that most conflict doesn’t have anything to do with me, so I don’t take it personally.  If I don’t take it personally, it’s a great deal easier not to react negatively.

Rae Lynn: My advice for those handling conflicts is to first take a time out. Oftentimes we become so clouded by our emotions that we can blow things out of proportion or not even realize the root of why we feel the way we do. Take a time out, get outside, grab a journal, do anything you can to help you center yourself and your thoughts and identify what you are feeling. I also manage my expectations. I use “I feel statements” to help the person empathize with how you are feeling.

We’re all in this together
(photo taken before COVID)
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

What’s the most important lesson learned from handling conflict?

Jacqueline: Sometimes we are so caught up in defending our perspective that we don’t truly listen to the other’s perception of the conflict or what the solution might look like. I have learned that when you look beyond the conflict, and at the end goal, it is easier to be open to conflict resolution. Also, it is best to confront conflict rather than avoid it. I believe everything happens for a reason and usually, after resolving a conflict, the team will be wiser and stronger than before.

Maria: The most important lesson I learned from this experience is that we must speak up when we can. Accepting situations that are unacceptable can normalize them. I think it’s important to be active participants in our society and speak up against behavior we don’t agree with, with the goal of emulating the type of society we want to be part of.

Cristyn: I mentioned it above, but my most important lesson has been learning not to take things personally.  By doing this, and remaining calm, I can turn situations of conflict into positive change events.

Rae Lynn: The most important lesson that I have learned from conflict during Covid is that no matter what, conflict is a part of life. I personally would love to avoid conflict, but from past experience, I know that never works. So, instead of avoiding, I have learned to embrace it and work through it, opting to learn from conflict rather than let it define me and my relationships.

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NU resources for conflict.

Office of the Ombudsman. National University Office of the Ombudsman at (858) 642-8368 or ombuds@nu.edu.

Per the website:

Here are some examples of common issues that can be discussed with the University Ombudsman Office:

  • Miscommunication between supervisors, coworkers, employees, and/or students
  • Confusion around policies and/or procedures
  • Ethical and unfair treatment concerns
Advice

Parenting During the Time of COVID

We asked members of student organizations about what it was like to go to school and work while parenting kids during the time of COVID. Read their responses below, and check out our follow-up student panel from Monday, October 19:

Our Contributors:

We are hosting a student-led panel with blog contributors on Monday, October 19 from 5:30-6:30. Click here to register.

Cristyn A.—Bachelor of Business Admin. Single mom of 3 kids (middle school and high school). Student orgs: Families United and Omega NU. San Diego region.

Luis R. –Bachelor of Science, Nursing. Married with 3 kids (all elementary school). Student orgs: NUSNA, San Diego. San Diego Region.

Jacqueline M.—Master of Education, School Psychology. Married with two kids (college and elementary). Student org: Mind, Body, Wellness Student Organization. Imperial Valley region.

Ryan Z.—Master in Public Health (’20). Married with one child (a toddler and another on the way!). Student orgs: MPH Student Organization. Houston, TX region.

Lisa S.—Bachelor of Science, Nursing. Separated, one second grade son.  Student orgs: NUSNA, Fresno. Fresno region.

Micoy G.—Bachelor of Science, Nursing. Married, two kids (elementary). Student orgs: NUSNA, San Diego. San Diego region.

Christen V.—Bachelor of Elementary Education. Married, four children (from high school to elementary). Student orgs: Omega NU, Families United, Pride @NU. San Diego Region.

Whisper T. Master’s in Counseling, MFT. Widowed, one toddler.  San Diego Region.

“It’s a different type of new school year, but special just the same.” Luis R.

How did you handle time management when, suddenly, you were going to have to add full-time childcare/homeschooling to your already-packed life?

Jacqueline:

I quickly saw the need for a structure and routine. I decided to wake up before my children and get some quiet time to do assignments. Doing this helps me have a little more time to help them in their schoolwork.

I asked my kids to develop their own schedule to follow. I believe if they develop it themselves it will be easier for them to stick to it.  

Honestly, we try to follow the schedule, but we have also learned that it is ok when we can’t get it all done. Maintaining a good mental health has become a priority in my household

Lisa:

Time management is definitely a struggle for me, even before. Now, I find myself putting everything into my phone tasks/calendar with reminders. Everything goes in there including needing to get dog food or grocery shop. I cannot remember anything without a reminder.

“Creating a space that resembles a classroom has helped re-create the ‘school vibe'”- Luis R.

To be honest, I’m not proud of how I’ve handled things. I mean, we are both alive and functioning for the most part so that is a win right. I have learned grace during this time though. I have ridiculous standards for myself and I’ve been learning to let those go a little. Sometimes it is okay if the success of the day is that my son and I have both eaten and taken showers. Other days are more productive with the day ending in checks being in all the boxes of my to do list.

Christen:

I have created checklists for each one of my children. They have a daily schedule that helps me tremendously that keeps us on track. I have that pinned in the kitchen and in their rooms. I created that myself.

Juggling supervising the education of three kids, working from home, and going to school, Cristyn A. has learned to let go of some the guilt when she can’t be the “best” at everything all of the time.

Whisper:

My number one job as a mother is to make sure my son feels secure and comfortable in our home even with the pandemic.

I also try to keep a loose routine. We get up in the morning I make coffee, and my son breakfast. We put on some music and dance around kitchen. Then I create my to do list. Trying to make sure I have times set apart for conference calls, talking with clients and doing schoolwork. It’s a blessing going to National University and the flexibility that when my son goes down for a nap, I can log on to blackboard and do a few assignments without taking time away from him. It’s scary for a two-year-old when everything has changed so quickly so keeping a semi routine of bed, meals, and activities helps him feel a sense of stability.

Were there any NU resources you used that you would like to share with others as particularly helpful to you as you juggled work, school, and homeschooling?

Cristyn:

I firmly believe SilverCloud and the “how to handle anxiety’ course.  I found that as parents, we hold in an extreme amount of guilt, especially now.  I want to be the best parent, give them the best education, feed them good meals, have them live in a clean house, provide for them by doing well at work, and provide for their futures by getting a good education.  I can’t juggle all those balls at the same time, regardless of my desiresSilverCloud helped me learn to stop negative thinking and to take a second to find myself and be in the moment with some meditations. 

Don’t let the camo sweatpants fool you! Finding a set-up for working or learning at home is all about what works for you. Listen to your body and make sure you’ve got a healthy set up and are taking enough breaks to keep the blood moving.

Jacqueline:

I think the most helpful resource NU has provided for me is including me in a community of caring individuals. I was also able to contribute to this culture by forming the Mind, Body, and Wellness Student Organization. We are students who work out together and inspire each other. From weights to yoga, we offer structured space for workouts and community. We were really fortunate that NU’s Manager of Student Wellness agreed to be our staff advisor. Ashley is amazing and her office offers so many great resources.

From Luis R.: When everyone is home together all day long, giving kids alone time away from their siblings becomes extra important. In our family, we also make sure to have individual projects to allow for one-on-one bonding with each child. One favorite project is trying out new recipes together!

Micoy:

Mentor Me, as a mentee and a mentor. It made me feel secure knowing that I have this as a resource that I can use to reach out to a mentor for encouragement and support; and as mentor,  it felt good knowing that I am able to pay it forward and able to help others and share my knowledge and experience to anyone who may need my assistance and advice.

It was also this time that I started using Portfolium—which all NU students have access to through their Single Sign On page—more and appreciated its use.  I like that I can upload and store in Portfolium any updates or schoolwork that I recently completed.  This not only serves as a filing system for me but also something that I look back on from time to time to reflect on the work I’ve done and  how far I’ve come on working for my degree.

Luis:

My professors have made themselves more available than ever for virtual 1-1 meetings. In those meetings I’ve been able to seek out professional and academic guidance while also simply interacting with people who are subject matter experts in the field I chose to study at National. Further, OmegaNU and Families United put together a list of resources for the CSEA page.

Sometimes an extra pillow or better headphones can make a huge difference in one’s learning environment.

Ryan:

I definitely lean on student organizations and clubs. Whether you are a student or alumni, clubs can bring people together and provide an opportunity to ask for advice, gain perspective, or just share a story of success (or frustration).

Our programs at NU extend beyond the classroom, whether on campus or online.

Stay tuned for more student voices coming soon. And be sure to check out “What’s NU?” for the latest updates on Center for Student Engagement & Activities events.

To join a club, email us at clubs@nu.edu.

Advice

School, work, and Sanity as an Essential Worker During a Pandemic

Young female student nurse in scrubs poses with an iced coffee
Annie Jensen, student nurse and NU Scholar

Annie Jensen, BSN student

NU Scholar, Oct 2019 Cohort, Fresno Region

bal·ance

/ˈbaləns/

If there is anything I’ve learned from taking 100’s of yoga classes, it’s that balance can make or break your success. As an essential worker in this pandemic, my stress level has increased due to the higher demand for health care workers along with the stress of becoming an online learner. I would not have been able to survive this unconventional time without keeping a steady balance between my school, work, and activities.

Taking Charge of my Education

A counselor once told me the only person in charge of my education was me. Little did I know this would take on a whole new meaning in 2020. Not being able to physically be at school in the last six months has forced me to take my accountability for my education to a new level. Although it has been more difficult, finding activities to do as a study tool has helped me learn the information faster and doubles as a form of entertainment while in quarantine. For example, when I’m memorizing flash cards, every flash card I get wrong I do 5 jumping jacks. This activity encourages me to get some exercise in while learning the information. And we actually learn and retain information better when we’re physically active!

Work-Life Balance

Young white woman in nursing scrubs, with badge, surgical mask, eye mask
Masks can be scary for little kids, especially in a healthcare setting. A goofy thumbs-up is a smile that everyone can share.

As a self-diagnosed workaholic, keeping a work-life balance is easier said than done – but acknowledging this in myself is the first step. I feel so incredibly blessed to be an essential worker during this time and having the opportunity to still work full time. At the same time, balancing work and school has always been difficult for me, and has been increasingly more difficult with the high demand for healthcare workers right now. I know many individuals are, instead, having to take a step back from work because of the situation at hand. Nonetheless whether you’re not working enough or are putting in overtime, finding a good balance is always important. In the past few months I’ve realized I need to calm my mind before going to bed. One thing that has helped me is getting back into guided meditation for 10 minutes at the end of my night. If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and are having too much relaxation time, I’ve found maintaining a consistent routine and structure to be helpful. Whatever you’re “normal” is, try to keep the same schedule by doing house projects, exercising, or reaching out to people you know who are alone during this time. You’ll not only put a smile on someone else’s face, but this has been found to be a great way to boost your own social-distance blues.

Keeping my head in the game

Young white woman with long dark hair and sunglasses, sitting in a car, very excited about an iced coffee
For me, an iced coffee is the perfect treat and excuse to take a few minutes for myself. How are you creating some small moments for self care during this time?

Working as much as I do and going to school full time, I don’t have very much free time. At the beginning of this quarantine I would push through week by week going without time for myself and I got burned out fast. I realized that I needed to change something, fast. I started experimenting by doing home workouts twice a week or watching an episode of Criminal Minds, just basically doing anything that made me not have to critically think for 45 mins. This decision transformed me into a new person. Just by doing one activity a week whether it be working out, Netflix, or going to the Starbucks drive thru to get a coffee, I’m able to refresh myself back to my equilibrium. National University’s new Mind & Body Wellness Student Organization has been a great way to get in some workouts while connecting with peers.

Even though I haven’t had much time to myself during these past few months, I’ve actually learned a lot about who I am. I’ve figured out what my learning language is, what my limits are, and learned to appreciate the simple things. Most importantly I figured out how to balance my mind and body, and it’s helped guide my way to where I am now as a student and healthcare worker.