Team conflicts resolve in 10 steps: settling quarrels through communication


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Conflicts are completely normal in our daily job, and you can hardly avoid them with the greatest effort. Therefore, we should learn to handle you properly. 10 steps to solve the problem.

Team conflicts resolve in 10 steps: settling quarrels through communication


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Professor Dr. Martin-Niels Däfler Professor Dr. Martin-Niels DäflerProf. Dr. Martin-Niels Däfler teaches at the University of Economics and Management (FOM) in Frankfurt am Main.

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Resolve conflicts in 10 steps

If you want to see it in a positive light, arguments are a sign of a lively culture of conversation and often a reason for change. But: you have to tackle it properly!

Conflicts are often not solved at all or are not solved objectively and therefore lead to permanent disputes among those involved, sometimes they can even "poison" the atmosphere within an entire department. To avoid such negative consequences, you should consider the following notice.

Hot iron in time to tackle

Tackle “hot irons” or sensitive issues early on and avoid problems. Because unresolved, smoldering conflicts prevent constructive cooperation between those affected, reduce the efficiency of the department and unnecessarily distract from the important tasks. In addition, conflicts tend to increase in sharpness and extent over time.

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If you are involved in a conflict, then the following procedure is recommended. Naturally, you can also apply this if you, as an intermediary, want or have to settle a dispute between colleagues or employees.

Step 1: Are there any solutions?

Before you even resolve a conflict, you should ask yourself: "Am I ready to end this dispute and possibly make concessions for it?" If it is clear to you in advance that only the other person is to blame and your behavior is faultless, then it has none Senseto start arbitration - you must have a certain willingness to compromise / change.

When it comes to a conflict in which you are not involved, but act as a third party (neutral arbitrator), ask yourself: "Am I the right person to solve this dispute?" Personal, hierarchical, authoritarian, or other reasons may suggest that you better leave the arbitration to someone else.

Step 2: Analyze the history

First, consider how there could be any dispute at all. Try to remember what happened in the past. As a neutral conciliator, you should know how the conflict has come about who is involved and what has happened.

However, do not ask (yet) those directly affected, but only the environment. Do not interprete the information received, but keep in mind that the information may be deliberately or unconsciously wrong - so do not take everything at face value.

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Step 3: Get in touch with your “counterparty”

Go to the people who are involved in the conflict and tell them that you want or need to solve the problem (the order of the superior). Ask those concerned what you are expecting from a conflict discussion and, if so, what fears they have.

Become aware: Conflicts arise daily in our work and in coexistence with others. What matters is how we treat them and how we solve them. Best step by step!

Step 4: Terminate the conflict conversation

Make an appointment with your “counterparty” or the person concerned. Appointments in the late afternoon are well suited because you then have no pressure “out backwards” and because those affected can then go straight home.

Choose a neutral place for the conflict discussion, not your office or that of the “counterparty” or one of the parties concerned. Make sure that you are undisturbed, have no listeners, and that there are no superiors present.

Step 5: Open the conflict conversation

Start the conversation by first introducing the procedure. After you have greeted your “counterparty” or those affected, explain the further procedure, which should consist of the following points (they correspond to the next steps 6 to 10):

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  • Explaining conversation objectives and rules;
  • Presenting the views of those affected;
  • Working out similarities and differences;
  • Development of solutions;
  • Decision for a solution.

Once each stakeholder has presented his or her position, you should now work out the positions. First, try to get the people concerned to provide answers, then resolve the conflict together.

Step 6: Explain the call destination and the rules

Talk to your “counterparty” or the person concerned about the aim of the conversation and go through the rules point by point: say that it is not a question of clarifying the question of guilt or of speaking the law, but that the aim is to solve the problem together.

Say that you do not appear as an opponent, but as an equal participant. If you act as a neutral conciliator: Say what your tasks are:

How is the conversation going?

  • They will work out different perspectives and points of view.
  • They will try to persuade those affected to understand the standpoints, needs and motives of the other side.
  • They will help develop solutions.
  • In all this, you will be strictly neutral and treat all information confidentially.

Name the call rules

  • Only factual criticism is raised.
  • There must be no accusations.
  • The interlocutors let each other out.

At the end of the conversation, make sure all attendees are ready to work on conflict resolution. If this is not the case, then you can end the conversation immediately.

Step 7: Let those affected represent your point of view

Now the actual conflict resolution begins. Let your “counterparty” go first. Each of the conflict partners now describes the conflict one after the other from their point of view, as specifically and specifically as possible.

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Follow up if, for example, it says “Always do this and that” by asking: “When was the last time you did this?” Also try to get participants to express their feelings. Very important in this phase: All other participants in the conversation are silent, there are no accusations, no discussions, no interruptions and no immediate search for solutions.

Step 8: Develop similarities and differences

Ask: "What do we agree on?" If the conflict partners remain silent, you can determine where you have discovered common ground. This is very important, because this is how the participants see that they are not completely apart. Then turn to the differences. Ask: “What do we disagree on? What are the real sticking points? ” Record the results in writing as they are the basis for the next step.

Step 9: Develop solutions

At this stage of conflict resolution, work through each difference in turn. Decisive for the success is that the individual points are treated separately and not mixed together. Always follow the same pattern:

  • What are the solutions to the conflict partners to resolve this disagreement?
  • Which of the solutions are feasible?
  • Which of these solutions are accepted by you / your “counterparty” / the conflict partners?

Pay attention to alternatives and compromises

Be sure to come up with more than one solution to help you make a real choice and make a compromise if necessary. Try to bring movement into positions by, for example, calling pros and cons to individual alternatives or brainstorming.

The important thing is: Allow all suggestions - after all, ideas that seem absurd at first can be the key to success. Pay particular attention to casually expressed offers to the other side, because they are often the determining factor for a friendly settlement. Ideally, there is a list of solution alternatives at the end of this phase.

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Step 10: Choose a solution

In conclusion, it is important that you and your “counterparty” or the conflict partners agree on a solution. To ensure that the solution is permanent, you also need to work with stakeholders to set criteria that help them measure whether the agreement is being met and followed.

Before you say goodbye to your “counterparty” / the participants in the conversation, you should repeat all the results (solutions and criteria) and make sure that all of the conflict partners have understood the same thing. Finally, ask the question: "Can you work constructively (again) with me / with each other after this interview?"


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