Definition of Terms

Best Practices: A concise list of tools proven to be most effective through extensive research.

Case Studies: Examples of conflict with questions and suggestions as to how to best resolve the conflict. The analysis of varying situations serves as a learning tool and guide when trying to manage conflict at your site.

Community Partner: Another person or institution that a VISTA member, VISTA Leader, or VISTA site, works with in some capacity; ideally these are partnerships in which the two groups work together on a certain project, issue area, or goal. Some VISTA projects place VISTA members at a host site and a community partner, where they may work on the same issue area in two different capacities.

Conflict: A disagreement may be between two or more people based on differing values, opinions, work styles, perceptions, etc. The difference may cause significant tension and affect the work and effectiveness of the people working together.

Consensus: A general agreement between two or more people. Consensus does not necessarily mean agreeing with one view, but working together on a vision, definition, idea, etc. that all can be satisfied with.

Goal Statement: The guiding statement for an Action Learning Challenge team project; the concept the team strives to accomplish.

Host Site: The institution serving as the manager for a VISTA program. The site may host multiple VISTA members itself or serve as host to VISTA members working at multiple sites. Outdoor Outreach in California is an example of a single site, where one or more VISTA members work within an organization that has obtained its own grant. Campus Compacts and the Appalachian Coal Country Team are two example programs that host multiple VISTA members placed at regional partners.

Self-Identifying Survey Tool: A questionnaire and corresponding explanations of conflict management styles. By taking the survey, you can approach managing conflict with the knowledge of what your dominant and back-up styles are. With a clear idea of how you already manage conflict, you can learn new tools for being more effective in managing conflict within your work and the work of those you manage.

Site Supervisor: The person a VISTA member and/or VISTA Leader directly reports to. This person is the first point of contact for a VISTA member without a VISTA Leader and for a VISTA Leader.

Stages of Conflict: Phases people go through when dealing with a conflict, as determined by the work of political scientist Eric Brahm as part of the Beyond Intractability project at the University of Colorado. The stages are not set and do not always simply go in order, but do exist and acknowledging them makes resolving conflict easier. For the purposes of our website, the stages have been broken down as follows: underlying conflict, conflict development, conflict stalemate, conflict resolution, and reconciliation.

VISTA: Volunteers in Service to America work to eliminate poverty through capacity building measures. Examples of VISTA work include: volunteer program development, grant writing and fund raising, and literacy program development. VISTA members may encounter conflict with fellow VISTA members, VISTA Leaders, site supervisors, other colleagues, between their volunteers, or even community partners.

VISTA Leader: A VISTA Leader is placed with a VISTA member host site to serve as a mentor to and advocate for groups of VISTA members. Their work may include training development, recruitment of new VISTA members, liaison work, or fund and resource development. VISTA Leaders may encounter conflict with VISTA members, site supervisors, community partners, other colleagues, or between VISTA members and other people. The VISTA Leader is often the first point of contact for VISTA members when conflict arises.