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Bryan Edwards

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10 Tips to Facilitate Conflict


Conflict is.....

"Serious disagreement or argument. An incompatibility between opinions or principles"


It may centre on something trivial (e.g. leaving dirty cups around) or something more complicated (e.g. a personality clash; trying to force somebody to do something against their principles).

10 tips to facilitate conflict between parties:

1. Choose the moment

- When’s the best time/place to tackle the issue?

- The longer the conflict festers, the more feelings get entrenched

2. Introduce the issue

- Explain the situation in a non-emotive way

- Get across the effect of what has happened

- Be positive in the introduction. For example: “I do want a productive outcome for both of you”;  “I really want to clear the air because it’s not good for any of us”

3. Set ground rules

For example:

- Listen to each other’s view point

- No talking over each other

- Avoid sarcasm or flippancy 

4. Ask each party for their versions of events

- Encourage debate not argument

- Control the conversation assertively if it gets confrontational e.g. “Look John, I know that you’re emotional about this however you do need to avoid comments like that last one”

- Remain neutral and calm

- Feedback to those who display destructive negative emotion e.g. glaring/ finger pointing; sarcastic remarks; yes butting ; personal remarks

5. Let them vent

- When people are emotional they are not rationale. They exaggerate. Demands are not reasonable. Letting them get it off their chest promotes reduction in emotion and increase in rational problem solving

6. Find out ideal outcomes

7. Adopt a problem solving approach

- Ask both parties for a solution or way forward

- Voice positiveness e.g. “There must be a way to solve this”

- Look for win-win outcomes if possible

8. Summarise regularly

- To ensure nothing is missed out and to promote clear communication

- Summarise back any agreement and check that each party is committed to the solution/approach

9. Take time out

- To reflect on what they’ve said and to check how people are feeling

- An overnight break might help people understand/ compromise more

10. Review results

- Check with parties later to gauge the effectiveness of the facilitation

Visit our website blog for more e-learning tips to circulate to colleagues and friends.

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Read more from Bryan Edwards

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