Safe Sport

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

Swimming Canada believes that everyone in the sport has the right to enjoy the sport at whatever level they participate.

Conflict is inevitable and occurs naturally when people interact.  Conflict can be positive.  When two people disagree, it means they care enough to take a stand.  Individuals and teams need conflict to grow and to generate new ideas. Conflict can be productive or non-productive, depending on how the issues are handled. Resolving a conflict at an early stage may prevent a situation from getting worse and may reduce the risk of it turning into a formal complaint.


Here are a few tips on how to resolve conflict situations. For more specialized information, check out the Helpful Links.

  • Pause, breathe deeply and get grounded to make sure you are calm when you have the discussion.
  • Choose the right time and place for conflict resolution.
  • Zoom out and look at the situation from a neutral place to give you perspective.
  • Focus on the problem, not on the person with whom you are having the conflict.
  • Really listen. Active listening means more than just waiting for your turn to speak.
  • Reflect empathy by acknowledging the person’s feelings even if you do not agree with their perspective.
  • Be aware that your non-verbal communication – your tone of voice, hand gestures, body language and facial expressions – form the majority of your communication.
  • Avoid the four behaviours that fuel a conflict situation: criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness.
  • Take responsibility for your behaviour and for your part in the conflict.
  • Use assertive communication. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements to reduce defensiveness.
  • Let everyone offer possible solutions. Explore the possibilities together.  Once decided, have everyone commit to the resolution.
  • Involve a third party if you have not been able to come to an agreement yourselves.

Coaches Canada – 5 Approaches to Conflict Management

USA Swimming Safe Sport – Conflict Resolution:  Easy Ways to Have Hard Conversations

Coaching Through Conflict:  Effective Communication Strategies