Reporter: Sarah Samuel
That crazy thing we call love is perhaps one of the most studied and least understood areas in psychology, according to many behavioural psychologists.
Human behavioural studies suggest falling and staying in love takes more than just time and commitment. It takes change from within and sometimes that change has a lot to do with how to deal with conflict situations, how to communicate, how to respond and how to converse properly.
Relationships and conflicts was the topic of discussion in a seminar on March 4, held by Mediation-Alternative Dispute Resolution, a one-year program offered at Durham College. It was part of a seminar series on various sensitive topics being held throughout March and it was open to all students from Durham College and UOIT.
“We wanted to talk about all topics. That is why there’s one seminar every week, which is held by Campus Conflict Resolution Services (CCRS). The topics we chose are simple and we wanted to connect with the campus community as well as provide people tips on resolving any kind of conflict,” says Professor Helen Lightstone, from the Mediation Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.
CCRS is an experiential learning course offered to the students enrolled in the Mediation-Alternative Dispute Resolution graduate certificate program.
The seminar briefed students on how to handle conflicts in the light of two psychological rules – The Golden and The Platinum rule. The former sheds light on how to treat people the way we want to be treated, and the latter talks about how to treat people the way they want to be treated.
“When two people are in a relationship, many conflicts arise because of conflicting personalities,” says Rebecca Wettlaufer, a student with CCRS who was arranging the seminar.
Presenters discussed some ways to communicate properly which included listening, choosing words wisely, reflecting on thoughts, validating, reframing and summarizing what the other person says.
“Communication is the chemistry of our brain, it works biologically and for the thoughts to be understood, they need to be communicated clearly. Body language is one of the most effective ways to get a message across. The verbal and the non-verbal cues play a big role when it comes to communicating,” says Amy Vincze, another student organizer with CCRS.
According to the presenters, there are many factors that can lead to arguments and some of the most common are education, emotion, history, gender and culture.
Students were also trained on how to respond and how to have “the” conversation (the conversation that confronts the conflict). Briefly mentioned were some ways to respond to a conflict situation, which are to avoid, accommodate, compromise and make the first move for reconciliation.
“The best way to have ‘the’ conversation is to prepare for it, identify interests, see the long-term and short-term consequences and most importantly, let go of your point,” says Vincze
Briefly talked about in the seminar was “Carefrontation”. It is the conversation that leads to realization of the ‘aha’ perspective and behavioural psychologists term this conversation as the one which most of us dread having.
“I liked the Carefrontation idea because it shows people care enough about the relationship to avoid any long lasting confrontations. The seminar in general was informative and interesting. I learned a lot of things that I thought I knew, but it made me see my own relationship in a new light. Seminars like these should be encouraged,” says Jessica Collins, student from the Mediation-Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.
Some other topics being discussed at the seminar this month are Disability awareness; family matters; culture and religion; dating and relationships, housing, residence and roommates. These seminars are held in room 314 every week on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.