Facilitator Journal | Issue #0396, June 2, 2009
Conflict is an element of group dynamics that challenges us most. This is so because conflict carries a lot of energy. Most of us have been conditioned to fear and avoid this kind of energy. Learning to view conflict as simply energy that can be used for good is a great first step toward effectively facilitating it. This week's article, Embrace and Resolve Conflict addresses just that subject.
JOFC Vancouver! Many participants who have attended our Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration workshop in Madison have come away transformed in their view and practice as leaders and facilitators. Even those with intermediate and advanced skills leave the workshop having been impacted both personally and professionally. I'm looking forward to visiting Vancouver for this workshop during the week of July 27th. I've decided to make this into a driving adventure from southern California, taking extra time to meet readers and customers up in Vancouver and at spots along the way. If you live along this route and would like to meet, I'd love to connect with you on this journey. And of course, I'd love to take this workshop journey with you as well if you feel so inclined. Click here for details and registration.
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Embrace and Resolve Conflict
Conflict is a sign that the group is moving deeper and can be
as a seed for transformation
is a natural stage of a group process. But most of us have been
taught to avoid it at all costs. So when we encounter it in groups,
we tend to retreat from it, to the apparent safety of avoidance. Conflict is often a healthy sign that participants are
getting "real" with one another. Its effective
resolution results in increased understanding, intimacy, and trust, which
equates to superior group performance.
It takes a fair degree of intestinal fortitude to walk through
the fire of conflict. To skillfully make this journey, you as a
facilitator must have developed, to some degree, the
self-mastery skills we present throughout this
journal, so that you can walk through the conflict
with the group and without retreating!
Now with that said, a lot of conflict can be avoided by
attending to ground rules, using effective decision-making
processes, and good record keeping. But when it does occur,
intervene immediately so that it doesn't escalate to the point
that it compromises the fabric of the group.
conflict is the result of inaccurate assumptions and misunderstandings made by the
conflicting parties. Your job as facilitator is to uncover these
misperceptions while maintaining an atmosphere of respect.
Imagine that you're facilitating a working group and Sally is mad
at Joe because she doesn't feel he's pulling his weight. The
first step in resolving conflict is to get consent from the
parties involved to work through it. You ask,
"Sally and Joe, would you be willing to work this issue
through with our support right now?" If they agree, get
each of them in turn to explain their perspective, assumptions,
and feelings, without blaming the other.
Since emotions are usually charged during conflict, the
challenge for you will be to get each side to stay with the
facts, to own their own feelings around the history of the
conflict, and to hear each other. When you get to the bottom of
most conflicts, you'll usually find that both sides want
something or have something in common that can form the
beginning of an understanding between them. Your biggest task will be to help them
break through the emotion and attachment to being right in order to get to this place and to hear the
perspective of the other side.
Things to keep in mind when resolving conflict
- Trust that the parties involved can work
through the conflict.
- Maintain mutual respect between
- Facilitate ownership language.
- Make sure
everything is spoken and heard by each party.
- Have each party
make requests of the other.
- Check for resolution.
next time you are faced with a conflict either in a one-on-one
relationship or in a group, seek to objectively hear the
information that the other party is conveying underneath any
emotion that is present. Ask questions to uncover all the facts
before resorting to "stating your case." Let go of the need to be right and instead, embrace the desire
to understand the other. In Steven Covey's words, "Seek
first to understand, then be understood." This
approach will go a long way in resolving or avoiding conflict
all together. Please send me your comments by replying to this email.
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