It's not unusual for conflicts to arise during a meeting. Many groups go through the phases of forming, storming, "norming," and performing. It could be conflict during a planning or logistics meeting for your own team or during the course of a meeting for clients. Regardless of the context, the steps you take will determine whether or not the conflict will be effectively managed and resolved.
Here are 9 steps that will help.
- Pause. A short time out will help all parties re-focus calm down and come back to the situation with a cooler head.
- Give the group thinking time to identify their concerns and briefly write down what is of concern, the desired outcome and proposed solutions.
- Agree on a set of norms for conflict solution such as one person speaks at a time, no name calling, and no profanity.
- Give all individuals or, for large groups, all stakeholders, an opportunity to share what they have written down.
- Before moving on to the next person, get someone to paraphrase the concerns and proposed solutions that have just been shared. Provide an opportunity for questions to clarify
- Once all perspectives have been shared, open the floor for discussion.
Remember to follow the steps I have previously outlined for ensuring balanced participation.
- Identify the basic facts and concerns on which everyone can agree.
- Identify the proposed solutions that are agreeable to all parties.
- For the areas, where there is still disagreement, form a subgroup to go away and study the issues in more depth and come back with proposed solutions. These tools will help with branstorming and decision-making.
If meetings often get out of hand and conflict becomes heated, it may be important to use a more formal meeting process such as Robert's Rules of Order for a while until the "storming" is over.
Usually, resolving conflict involves compromise. Aim for consensus and using voting as a last resort. It is more effective to come to an agreement about an approach that all parties can live with.
Photo Credit: Flazingo Photos