Team Conflict Resolution Part 1: Laying the ground work

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Team Conflict Resolution

You just got out of a meeting which your primary goal was to resolve a major conflict between two of your team members. A sense of despair has arisen and you believe you just made things worse. Your Conflict Resolution confidence just got crushed. You had all the right intentions, by meeting with them individually then getting together in the same room to resolve it.

The meeting started off well and civilized, but the tone and the language quickly rose and before you could blink you felt like you were a deer stuck in the headlights. Emotions are running high with little regard to reason and facts.  Each person left the meeting, with even more resentment. What now!

Don’t despair, there is still hope and can be reversed by focusing on the elements that you can control especially when conflicts are emotionally driven.

The important part is that you are genuine in your intentions and that you focus on what you can control. No, you can’t control people, well unless you are strong with the force. In upcoming series of articles, I will touch on a few of the elements that you can control which are:

  1. Meeting Preparation
  2. Meeting Opening and Flow
  3. Conflict Visualization

Meeting Preparation

Your goal is to ensure that the environment and their mood are as ideal as possible to resolve the issue when the meeting starts. Preparing as much as possible to address Conflict Resolution is key to increasing your chances to resolve the conflict and put your team back to reaching their potential.

Preparation to Address Team Conflict Resolution
The following are elements that you need to think of doing or asking yourself prior to the meeting:

  1. Individual Informal Discussions
    1. Speak with each of them informally prior to the meeting to gauge their mood, reiterate expectations and possibly lower their barrier.
    2. Done informally, it could lead to finding out or possibly addressing the underlying issues to what is the real problem.
    3. It is important to remember that you must listen not only to their language but their tone, their body language and keywords that they utilize.
  2. Optimal moods for resolution
    1. Are the individual’s morning or evening people? Would you want a meeting 1st thing Monday morning or just before the weekend? Did they just come out of a tough work session? Thinking about these things prior, will enable you to you find a good time to have the meeting.
  3. Noting down reminders and/or key points to ensure that you remember what you can control. i.e. the following are examples of these which I have used a lot:
    1. Keep focus on the issue at hand
    2. You don’t always need to stay on the surface level, dive deeper
    3. Keep your head up and stick with facts
    4. How is the tone of the meeting?
    5. Is the language becoming negative, condescending?
  4. Seating arrangement
    1. This can greatly influence the perception of the individuals. It is important that each person is not too close to each other but that they are able to talk directly to the other person not as if they are not in the room.
    2. Put yourself in their position and see your comfort level. 

The elements above are just a few things that you can control in the preparation of the meeting. This is a section which often gets overlooked and if it is not thought of, you could set yourself up for failure no matter what you do during the meeting.

What’s next!

In the weeks to come, I’ll discuss in the other 2 elements in Team Conflict Resolution in which I will describe techniques which I have employed regarding  “Meeting Openings and Flow and Conflict Visualization”.

These are just some techniques which I have used or been a part of and I would love to get your feedback and share your experiences.


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