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Sometimes Shi'a students have reported getting negative comments from Sunnis, and vice versa; or Salafi students get negative comments from other traditions or the other way around.
Where there is division and conflict, there are often misconceptions at the heart of it. Maybe you can find out what notions they hold about your tradition. See if you can clear up some of this misunderstanding in a casual conversation, always conducted in a friendly fashion.
You might want to organise some events to address core issues. See our guide to organising events.
Consider an activity that might improve people's listening and speaking skills to maximise understanding and minimise conflict. Make sure your facilitators are all equipped with expertise in listening and chairing. - Active Listening - Reflective Reframing - The Moderator Technique
If there are specific issues and grievances to be resolved, do some fact-finding reconnoitre in a low-key way to find out the point of view of the other side. If you intend to bring the parties together, keep emotions calm. The more feelings run high, the less people are to accept or even understand another point of view. Brief yourself and any other key players on information and strategies for encouraging reflective thinking, not emotive reacting. See our guide.
As a last resort, be aware of any policies or support your university has on bullying or harassment.
How to create and sustain good relationships:
- Maintain an atmosphere of respect, equality, tolerance, and openness
- Be willing to listen, and listen until you really understand
- Demonstrate your understanding by reporting and responding to their views accurately and without distortion
- Find or create common ground and a shared, higher purpose you all commit yourselves to
- Don't just pursue your agenda: listen to and deliver on their concerns and needs. Be as concerned about the issues that damage and threaten them as you are about the issues that you are concerned about
- Be worthy of trust: deliver on their concerns, be even-handed, keep promises, and where you can't deliver on their expectations, tell them and explain why
- Ask for their help and support: demonstrate in action your trust and respect
- Create and follow through on providing benefits to partnership
- Provide support, encouragement, and resources for their social supportive infrastructure, special needs or events if you are in that position.
- Back them when they need it.
Characteristics of a healthy atmosphere:
- Willingness to listen and understand each others' views
- Concern and attentiveness to others' needs
- Visible fairness and equality
- Reciprocity is a key test of fairness in most people's eyes: where co-operation or commitment are requested, they are also given in turn
- Respect is manifested in words, actions, policies as well as interpersonal conduct
- Commitment to act on their concerns, rights, vulnerabilities
- Two-way trust
- Support made real in practical matters as well as 'good intentions'