When you work with a group of people, in fact, conflicts will arise from time to time. Conflict is natural when there are groups and if managed effectively it can be healthy for everyone. If you find yourself involved in a group conflict, don't panic. Take some time to assess its underlying causes and work with the rest to clear up any misunderstandings. When you've gotten to the bottom of the matter, gather your minds and brainstorm solutions that work for everyone.
Part 1 of 2: Identify the nature of the conflict
Step 1. Acknowledge the conflict
Ignoring conflict when there are groups will not make it go away. Resentments that are allowed to heat up are more likely to get worse, which could lead to an argument or the group falling apart. If you realize that there is a problem in your group, recognize the situation immediately and start looking for an underlying cause.
Conflict usually begins when members of a group feel frustrated with each other. This situation can lead to direct confrontation or other passive-aggressive forms of conflict (for example, one member of the group ignores another or complains about him behind his back)
Step 2. Talk to group members to find out what's going on
One of the quickest ways to get to the heart of a group dispute is to ask what happens to the people involved. If they don't approach you first, try calling the main actors aside and talking to them about the situation.
- For example, you might say the following: “Vanessa, I have noticed that there are tensions between you, Bertie, and Orlo recently. Is something happening?
- Try talking to people on both sides of the conflict. This way you will have a clearer and more balanced idea of what is happening.
- If the conflict is causing major problems in the group, it might be helpful to speak with someone who has witnessed it but is not directly involved in it. This person may have a more objective perspective than those involved in the conflict.
Step 3. Determine if there is miscommunication
This is a common cause of group conflict. Observe how the group members communicate with each other and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do group members openly and honestly express their concerns or avoid talking about the problem area?
- Do group members criticize each other inappropriately (eg, blame each other, attack their character rather than provide constructive criticism)?
- Do all members of the group make an effort to actively listen to each other and to hear and understand what others are saying?
- Are there group members who feel ignored, devalued, or attacked?
Step 4. Look for attribution errors
These occur when people make wrong assumptions about someone's behavior or motives. It can happen in situations where people are not communicating effectively. Examine the assumptions of the people who are involved in the conflict about the others and reflect on whether they are true or not.
- For example, other group members might assume that Susan is always late for meetings because she is lazy or doesn't care about the group, when in fact she is late because of another engagement.
- In these situations, you may need to do some research to find out what is really going on. For example, if you hear other group members saying that Susan is lazy because she's always late, try asking her directly what is causing her to be late.
Step 5. Check for mistrust and grudges
Sometimes personal biases or people's past experiences cause conflict in a group. Perhaps one or more team members have a personal grudge with another or the past behavior of one of the team members has led others to think that they cannot be trusted. When this situation occurs, it will be difficult for the group to operate in a healthy way.
- For example, if Roger made a mistake on the previous project, other team members may not want to entrust him with important tasks.
- Try to determine if the lack of trust in the group is justified or is the result of a personal grudge. For example, if Roger is now struggling to do his part in the group, the other members may still harbor resentment. If you keep making mistakes and let things go wrong, your concerns may be valid.
Step 6. Pay attention to personality clashes
Sometimes there are people who just don't get along. Group conflict can stem from something as simple as your team members not getting along. Observe the group closely or listen to complaints that make you think there are personal conflicts involved.
For example, maybe Jordan is jovial and outgoing, while Michelle is reserved and quiet. When you work together, you may end up frustrated and upset with each other
Step 7. Find out if there are members of the group who have conflicting needs
Fighting can also occur when members of a group have conflicting needs or behavior styles that do not match well. Even if you get along personally, working together may seem irritating or even impossible.
For example, perhaps Lucy has to work in complete silence, while Felix concentrates better when listening to music with his headphones and humming
Step 8. Determine if you are part of the conflict
In many cases, it will be obvious. However, if communication in a group is poor, you may not immediately know that other members of the group are dissatisfied with something you are doing. Think about how your actions (or inactions) could be contributing to friction in the group, and be honest and objective with yourself.
- You may find it helpful to ask the other members directly, but politely, if they have a problem with something you are doing. For example, “John, I feel like you've been avoiding working with me on projects lately. Are you upset about something?
- If you are a group leader, try asking group members for feedback. For example, you might ask the following: "What can I do to be a better boss?" or "How can I help make this project easier for everyone?"
Part 2 of 2: Resolve the conflict
Step 1. Bring the group together to discuss the issue
To effectively resolve a group conflict, you will have to make sure everyone is on the same page. Call a group meeting and let everyone know that the purpose of the meeting is to deal with conflicts that arise within.
- Briefly summarize the problem as you understand it. Tell the group that you want to work with them as a team to solve this problem.
- Talk about how the conflict is affecting the group. For example, you might say the following: “When we don't distribute tasks evenly, some people end up feeling overwhelmed and others feel bored or undervalued. This situation lowers everyone's morale and they don't work as hard. "
Step 2. Put a positive spin on the situation
Recognize that a little conflict is healthy and that this situation is an opportunity to grow. Let group members know that you value that they care enough about work or their community to have strong emotions about what is happening in the group.
For example, you might say the following: “John, it's great that you're so dedicated to getting this project done on time. Your frustration with the slow pace at which things are progressing shows that you have a passion for your work. Georgia, I appreciate that you take the time to do your job diligently, rather than go crazy. "
Step 3. Don't blame group members and don't label them
Focusing solely on one or more members of the group is not productive. Focus on problems and how to solve them rather than perceived character flaws.
- For example, instead of saying, "Susan, your lack of dedication to this project is seriously hurting everyone's productivity," say something like, "We have to figure out how we're going to distribute the tasks so that we can work together more efficiently."
- Avoid dismissing someone with a tag. Don't pigeonhole any group member as "toxic," "lazy," or "unreliable."
- Even if you are a team member causing most of the problems, relate them to your behaviors and actions rather than who you are as a person. For example: "Fred, we are frustrated and our work suffers when you do not deliver the reports on time."
Step 4. Establish some ground rules for resolving conflicts
Let everyone know that the conversation should be polite. You won't make any progress if the meeting deteriorates and turns into arguing and blaming yourself. For example, the rules could include:
- Do not give nicknames or make personal attacks.
- Everyone should speak in the first person when communicating their concerns (eg, “When you are late for meetings, I feel frustrated and distracted” rather than “You are always late, you are so lazy!”).
- Do not talk or interrupt group members when they are trying to speak.
Step 5. Let everyone involved express themselves
Give everyone the opportunity to speak without interruption. Actively listen to what they have to say and try to consider all sides of the problem objectively.
- Take some time to make sure everyone understands each other. For example, you could say "Okay, does everyone understand why Geoff is frustrated?" Have the other members of the group paraphrase the main ideas of the argument in order to understand it correctly.
- If a group member has been causing trouble, give them a chance to explain their reasons. For example: "Susan, is something happening that is making it difficult for you to be on time? Can I help you with something?"
Step 6. Help group members work through their personal biases
If there are grudges and personality conflicts in a group, it can be very difficult to resolve or avoid the conflicts. Group members don't have to like each other, but it's important that they can put their differences aside and work together. If you have to, call the protagonists of a conflict aside and speak to them privately. Ask each of them for the following:
- Be polite and courteous in your interactions with the person you don't get along with.
- Don't gossip or complain about the other person to the other members of the group.
- Make a conscientious effort to make the group atmosphere more friendly and tolerant.
- Accept that there is nothing you can do to change the other person and channel your energies into more productive areas.
- If necessary, avoid working and interacting directly with the other person as much as possible.
Step 7. Recognize your own role in the conflict
If you know that you have played a role in the conflict, acknowledge your responsibility to yourself and to the members of the group. It's okay to explain your side of the problem, but don't try to excuse yourself or blame other members.
- For example, you might say the following: “I know I've been falling behind a lot lately and this has held everyone back. I think I have been taking on a lot of projects lately. Would it be possible to separate a part of my work with other members of the team?
- If you were a group leader, get together with your team and talk openly about how you can do a better job.
Step 8. Brainstorm solutions
When everyone understands the problem, work as a team to find a solution that works for everyone. This could mean reaching an agreement.
- For example, if the problem is that one member of the team is feeling overwhelmed, you could share some of their tasks with other members of the group.
- If the problem is due to conflicting needs, the solution could be as simple as dividing the group in a different way (for example, people who like to listen to music can team up, while those who prefer silence work in a separate space).
- You may find it helpful to divide the group into smaller teams and have each team come up with a solution separately. When you're done, bring the whole group back together to review everyone's ideas.
- If group members who are in conflict can work together politely, try putting them in the same small group that will brainstorm solutions. If not, break them up and let them think of possible solutions on their own.
- Once you have come up with some ideas, have the whole group decide together as a team which solution is the best. Try submitting the decision to a vote. Eliminate solutions that are not possible before asking groups to vote.
Step 9. Put the solutions into action
When everyone has agreed on a solution to the problem, ask everyone on the team to commit to it. Check in with the group from time to time to make sure the conflict has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
If there are problems that are arising between group members, consider meeting again to review the approach
- If the conflict gets so out of hand that polite conversation is impossible, it might be time to get help from outside. If it's a workplace situation, consider hiring a professional mediator. If it was a school group, you may need to involve a teacher or an administrator.
- If you don't think you have enough clout within the group to make everyone work to come up with a solution, try communicating your concerns with the group leader.