Families & Visitors<< Back to October 2012 Newsletter
Handling Conflicts Between Friends
“I don’t know what happened! Last week we were good friends and this week she’s barely speaking to me.”
Chances are that conflicts between friends may become a topic of conversation between you and your student. Navigating college friendships takes patience, forgiveness, understanding and clear communication. Here are some tips that might help your student along the way…
Go to the Source. It’s so easy, especially when living communally and/or being part of a campus community, to talk about conflicts with a friend with everyone but that friend! Going to the source is key if your student really wants to work things out.
Don’t Believe Rumors. Part of being in the midst of this type of community is that rumors fly faster than light. Encourage your student to shake off a rumor and go directly to the source to better understand what the true issue is.
Tamp Down the Drama. There are so many real-life issues to contend with that fabricated drama doesn’t deserve the time and attention it sometimes demands. Suggest that your student not get caught up in unnecessary drama. This isn’t an episode of “Gossip Girl,” after all – it’s real life!
Look for True Souls. If someone sidles up to you because you have a car, it’s pretty easy to tell what his or her intentions might be. But if someone shares interests and likes your student for who she is, that’s a true friendship worth pursuing.
Give the Benefit of the Doubt. When in conflict with friends, sometimes giving them the benefit of the doubt can diffuse the initial tension so students can get to the heart of the issue. Encourage your student to be the bigger person.
Keep Voices & Emotions Calm. Getting all riled up is one sure way to make a situation worse, rather than better. Suggest a cool-headed approach where students use “I” statements to express their concerns and a genuine interest in resolving the conflict. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Possible Sources of Friendship Conflict
- Someone not pulling their weight with a group project for class
- Misunderstandings enhanced by rumors
- Thinking the other person is upset when it really has nothing to do with you
- Someone borrowing something and not returning it
- Looking for reasons that someone might not like you
- Sharing confidential information with others, even when asked not to
- Being a “taker” instead of viewing friendship as a two-way street
- Talking behind someone’s back
- Publicly humiliating someone with words and/or actions