Conversation Starters that Enable Conflict Resolution

A plan:

Conflict is inevitable. Establish rules of engagement before conflict erupts.

Lack of preparation exacerbates conflict.

A clear path forward makes stressful situations less stressful.

7 conversation starts:

Develop a conflict-resolution-plan WITH your team, not FOR your team.

Participation increases ownership. When emotion is high, ownership lowers finger-pointing and keeps everyone engaged.

#1. How do you want to be treated when conflict flares up?

#2. How will we treat each other during conflict?

#3. How do we want people to feel during conflict resolution?

#4. What are you willing to commit to NOT do during conflict? To do?

#5. What will we do when someone does something we’ve agreed not to do?

#6. What shared commitments will help our team successfully navigate conflict?

#7. What procedure should we establish? A procedure might look like…

Define the problem in behavioral language. What are people DOING that causes this problem? What are people NOT doing that causes this problem?
Define the problem as an unmet goal. We’re trying to increase profits, but sales is spending more than ever. (Production and sales often experience conflict.)
Agree on a shared outcome. What will be true if we solve this conflict?
Develop a list of potential solutions. Define solutions in terms of behaviors.
Agree on next steps. Declare commitments. “I’m going to….”
Schedule a follow-up meeting.
Established procedures clarify responsibility and protect leaders. When you have a procedure for conflict resolution, leaders can ask, “Have you followed our procedure for conflict resolution?” before they intervene.

Use the above conversation starters, or craft your own, but start the conversation and develop the process.

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