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Top Tips for English Teachers for Dealing with Contentions between their Co-workers

Top Tips for English Teachers for Dealing with Contentions between their Co-workers | ITTT | TEFL Blog

We are all human. Let’s face it. Arguments, miscommunications, and considerations are inevitable. Unless we are going to go hide in the mountains forever to be alone, we are going to disagree with people and be disagreed with. Unless we forever stay by ourselves, we are going to have times when other people hurt us and when we hurt others.

Since we know that arguments are inevitable in the course of our life, maybe there is a way that the common argument can be turned into a beautiful conversation where everyone actually leaves happy, where everyone feels understood, and both sides always find a solution. Here accusations and explosive behavior are minimized where reasoning and kindness are promoted.

That is what learning conversations have the power to do. And that is what I will share with you today.

I recently learned about learning conversations, and I feel so empowered to be able to solve problems in my life. I used to never speak up for myself because I didn’t want to hurt others even if they were definitely in the wrong. I would get very emotional, and I could not formulate a good way to express myself. Often I just complicated my problems with others when I tried to resolve the issues. You very well may be able to relate to this. If so, learning conversations ARE FOR YOU!

What is a learning conversation?

A learning conversation is a method that helps to solve arguments and misunderstandings in a positive way.

How to have a learning conversation?

Learning conversations are one of the best things I have ever learned. Knowing how to have a learning conversation will help you significantly. Below I explain the steps to carrying out a learning conversation.

Clearly identify the problem that needs solving.

For example, my roommate hangs her wet clothes all over our room, and it makes our room really messy.

Think about the following:

A) why does the person do what he/she does? B) Try to think about what role you might play in the problem. For example, my friend works really hard - maybe she doesn’t have time to hang her clothes up on the clothesline. Do I save her enough space on the clothesline for her clothes?

Go to the person

and kindly ask for some time to be able to talk or have a learning conversation, such as “Sue, would you have time right now if we could sit for about ten or twenty minutes and have a learning conversation?”

Start off by telling them with no emotion

that they have hurt you or that there is something that is bothering you, such as “It is so wonderful to be your roommate, Sue, but there is something you have been doing that has really been bothering me.”

Tell them your assumption.

Tell them that you have tried to see why they have done what they have done through their eyes but that your assumptions very well may be wrong, for example, “I know you hang clothes up all over our room, and I was trying to understand why you might do that… I could be wrong in my assumption, but maybe you hang your clothes up in our room because you are too tired from all your work. Is that why?”

Let the person respond and explain.

Listen closely. For example: “Well, actually, I hang up my clothes in our room because they dry quicker inside than they do outside.”

Then, after you listen to them, reinstate what they just told you.

This shows them that you are genuinely listening to their story, for example, “So you are saying, Sue, that you hang your clothes up in our room because they dry quicker inside than outside?” They may nod or disagree, and you should reinstate the story with their critiquing until they agree that you understand it correctly.

Then share your side of the story.

But afterward, reinforce how you still understand their side of the story and highlight something(s) that they have done wonderfully, such as “I want to share my side of the story with you. I invite friends over to our room, and often your clothes are hanging all over. This really embarrasses me. I understand why you hang the clothes up all over our room, and I do appreciate that you do keep the room orderly in every other aspect.”


Always apologize if there is something you may have done wrong, even if it is small.

Try to find a solution.

Ask them what they and you can do to find a solution that works well for both parties. Tell them how you really do value the relationship, for example, “Is there a solution we can find that would work well for both of us? You know, I really do value our relationship, and I’m thankful that we can figure this out together!”

Find a solution that works well for everyone included.

“Sue, why don’t we buy a rack for hanging your clothes on?” “That would be perfect, Emily!”


Learning how to have a learning conversation is one of the best things I have ever studied! Implementing it into my life has been an even better thing as it has greatly helped in my relationships.

Learning conversations are about understanding the other person’s story; while at the same time also taking care of your own needs. It is about building a conversation that keeps people from feeling and becoming defensive. It is about having a conversation with respect and order that brings a solution.

Some conversations may not go as planned, but you can always do your best to use the methods stated above to help calm any argument and bring a sense of reason to chaos.

I hope what I have shared can help you. It is inevitable to occasionally have arguments and misunderstandings amongst co-workers. And the English teaching career is no exception. Yet having the right tools to deal with these issues can make your relationships much better.

Over to You

Are there other ways to deal with arguments and misunderstandings? Have you ever tried having a learning conversation? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!

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