Dealing with conflict

Different people have different expectations and styles of working together. Sometimes that can lead to conflict. This article will help you recognise causes of conflict and proposes strategies to resolve it.



Starting at university is a stressful and exciting time for students; this stress and excitement can sometimes lead to conflict, either in accommodation or within the learning environment.

How could this affect me?

Most students, when they start at university, will find themselves having to take a lot more responsibility for their own wellbeing and learning.

It is important to remember that everybody is different; if you are placed in accommodation with someone who has a very different lifestyle to you, you both may need to find a way to compromise, so that your lifestyles don’t impact on each other.  For example, you may have a flatmate who likes to stay out late, whereas you prefer to stay in, get an early night and rise early.  In this instance, it would be a good idea to set some ground rules; your flatmate agreeing to come in quietly late at night, you agreeing to be quiet early in the morning, if they are still sleeping, for example!

Within the learning environment, conflict can arise when working with other people.  Again, it is important to remember that everyone is different, and people approach tasks in different ways.  If you are working in a group, it is generally a good idea to work out what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are, and allocate tasks accordingly.  For example, if you find it difficult to stand up and present in front of a group, it would be unwise to give you the role of spokesperson.  On the other hand, you might be accomplished at a creative task such as animation, meaning that could be a role within the group that you can excel at.


What to do next?

Think about situations where conflict might arise.

Practical tips

  1. Consider telling your peers about your autism
  2. Set ground rules
  3. If conflict arises, try and find a compromise
  4. If you cannot work out your differences amongst yourselves, speak to your tutor or to the Disability team
  5. Remember that everybody is different, and that their opinions aren’t wrong, they are just different
  6. Try not to allow a conflict to be blown out of proportion

Questions to think about

  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Am I able to face up to conflict, and if not, is there someone who can advocate on my behalf?
  • What situations do I imagine encountering conflict in?

About the author

Written by Jackie Hagan, Learning Support Coordinator, UCA Rochester