It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced leader or if this is your very first CISV journey, conflicts in camp are inevitable. But please don’t worry – here are some tips for dealing with conflicts within your own delegation.
Many conflicts within a delegation are not as complicated as they may seem at first. When participants complain about conflict, they are usually involved in that conflict and are unable to understand and present the content clearly. For example, Tony and Hannah are Village participants who are having a conflict due to cultural misunderstanding. When they tell you about their conflict, you may hear the same story from two completely different perspectives. As a leader, you must be patient and listen to your participants. You should ask them what has happened, step by step, and don’t make any arbitrary judgment. This is the best way for you to understand the conflict clearly so that you can think about an effective resolution.
Respect is an important element in CISV. When you are having a conversation with your delegation, it is common to hear different opinions. For example, when leaders and participants are preparing for a cultural activity, there are often disagreements about what to plan and perform — some people prefer dancing while others may think that singing a song is a better option. Adults and teenagers often see the world differently. Therefore, it is important to emphasize respect within your delegation. Whenever a conflict is due to different thoughts, be open-minded, and encourage your delegates to be as well. It is a valuable experience for your delegates to learn how to work in groups, cooperate, and reach a common agreement.
Some conflicts within your delegation may be more serious. When you encounter any conflicts within your delegation that you think you are unable to solve independently, don’t feel embarrassed – go ask for help! You can present the conflict in the leaders meeting or ask the staff group directly. It is always a good idea to listen to other people’s advice and points of view. Also, in the case when a conflict may potentially (or has already) lead to serious consequences, you must inform the staff immediately. Always remember that there are people around you who can provide assistance and risk management advice.
In order to respond more effectively to conflict within your delegation, you can also try to think about some potential conflicts and their resolution before you may actually face them. There are many conflicts in the camp that we are able to anticipate, such as those that can emerge from adapting to a different environment in a country abroad or learning how to live with different people. You can review some of the training you received in your national leaders’ training or you can ask someone who has been to a camp to share their experience.
Sometimes conflicts that happened in previous camps may still occur again in your future camp. It is important for you to think about those conflicts in order to improve your CISV experience in the future. These are some aspects we suggest you to think and discuss, including the causes the conflict, the emotions involved, the behaviours of participants in the conflict, and the final resolution or potential resolution of the conflict.
Last but not least, be positive! Having a good atmosphere in the camp contributes to everyone’s enjoyment and lowers the chance of conflict within your delegation. We wish you an amazing CISV experience during next season.
Michael Haozhe Zhan on behalf of the Conflict and Resolution team