Managing conflict online

Tips from the Student Conduct Office

As we practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many social interactions that usually occur in person are being transferred to online spaces.

Working, learning and playing online presents unique challenges, which could lead to more opportunities for conflict to arise, especially during a period of heightened anxiety and stress. We hope these tips will help make your increased dependency on online communication easier.

  • Read the message again later. Reflecting on a message or comment later can bring a new perspective. Try reading it with different tones. That might change your own view on it.
  • Get a perspective from someone who knows you. Having someone else’s input can provide clarity and perspective to your situation.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt. We are all humans and make mistakes. We might react out of emotion, and say and do things that are out of character.
  • Clarify what was meant. When in doubt, ask! We all have our own lenses and might misinterpret things.
  • Don’t respond right away. It is important to evaluate your feelings on the message or comment before sending a response. Take the time you need to cool off before crafting a meaningful, non-confrontational reply.
  • Think about what end result you want & verbalize it. At the end of the day, most of us do not want to have conflict. It is important to establish that the end goal is to continue a healthy relationship, and for both parties to be understood.
  • Use “I” statements when sharing your feelings. “I” statements give us opportunities to be honest and direct in non-confrontational ways. For instance, you could say, “My feelings were hurt when…” or “I felt like…”.
  • Place yourself in the other person’s shoes. How might they interpret the message you are sending? Remember, we all view different communication styles in different ways. It is important to be empathetic in any conflict situation.
  • Use emojis to express your tone. This will help to convey tone. Sometimes, a plain message might seem off to some people, so adding emojis can brighten up the situation.

Try to start and end the message with positive, affirming and validating statements. Don’t forget to say what you agree with, that you understand how the person feels or anything else that might be positive.

  • Stay connected. Make a point of speaking with friends, peers or colleagues daily.
  • Structure your routine. Despite changing our mode of working, we can still keep a routine to ensure we are focused and productive.
  • Keep moving. Working from home can feel isolating. Intersperse your remote working with time for a walk or exercise to lower stress levels and anxiety.
  • Switch off at the end of the day. Set some boundaries for when you are going to focus on school and work versus time for self-care and leisure. Sometimes working from home can cause these distinctions to blur.
  • Reach out to your support networks. Remember that we are all in this together. Reach out to folks in your networks for support, and check in on your colleagues and peers.

If you experience conflict with another student and would like further support, please contact the Student Conduct Office, at