Communicating through conflict during COVID-19

MSU Extension’s new free online course helps workplaces facing conflict relating to social distancing policy enforcement.

person in a mask on a purple background that advertises the communicating through conflict during covid-19 course discussed in this article

MSU Extension’s free online Communicating through Conflict During Covid course offers Michigan businesses, municipalities and community groups the opportunity to provide conflict resolution training to their employees and members, giving them skills that will help them adapt to Michigan’s Michigan Department of Health and Human Services orders put in place in mid-November 2020. Due to a high need for this type of communication assistance, MSU Extension is offering this popular and useful course free of charge. 

In August 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for employers to provide training for employees on conflict resolution and put steps in place to prevent workplace violence when enforcing social distancing policies around COVID-19. This guidance came after numerous reports across the country of resistance to new policies and even violent situations in retail, services, and other customer-based businesses.

In response, educators at Michigan State University Extension created a short, self-paced module to help businesses and organizations across the state of Michigan train their employees on this particular topic. Now employers can enroll their staff in “Communicating through Conflict during COVID” online and in just 30 minutes, they will learn practical skills to help them deescalate and manage conflict relating to COVID-19, social distancing, and mask-wearing requirements. The module includes real-life scenarios in not only office and retail settings, but on social media as well.

By better understanding what may be causing the conflict, warning signs of aggression, and practicing self-management techniques, employees can feel better equipped to engage with others safely. To assist businesses and organizations as they navigate this difficult time, the course is offered free of charge. Once the course is completed, participants will receive a downloadable “badge” they can share on social media, email signatures, or print and display.

MSU Extension also offers a longer certificate course in “Communicating through Conflict” for those who would like to learn this skillset applied to other personal and professional settings. This two-module certificate course is available for $50 for individuals and course graduates will also receive access to the free COVID-19 course upon completion.

If you are interested in either of these online course programs, please visit our website at For large group audiences or customized program offering for your organization, contact Lindsey Gardner at

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