In many circles, conflict management is just another word for conflict prevention. That’s awefuly close to conflict avoidance (which we all know is unhealthy).
We have a different philosophy and practice of conflict management. Conflict is healthy. To be more specific, passionately expressed contrast is healthy. Differences of opinion are inevitable in every relationship, on every team, and in every company. Burying or ignoring that distinctiveness leads to resentment. Aimlessly flinging disagreement around the workplace without purpose destroys relationships and degrades teams. But openly and passionately expressing conflicting ideas leads to greater understanding, to great solutions, to innovation, and to strong relationships.
When conflicting ideas lead to people in conflict, some intervention may be needed. People in conflict don’t do good work.
Our team is experienced in mediation, and have helped people in various circumstances resolve their disputes in harmony.
We use the tools of theater improv to help disputants to hear their own thoughts more clearly, to focus on their true desires instead of on their fears. With attention constructively engaged in forward movement, and supported by neutral mediators in a context of trust, parties discover common ground.
Even the smallest patch of common ground can be the basis for resolution.
When disputes are taken to court, or to arbitration, or even authoritatively adjudicated by a manager or supervisor, there is a winner and a loser — and sometimes even both sides feel they have lost. Bitterness and hard feelings result after a stressful battle.
Mediation by improv, however, ends when everyone has won-–by definition cannot end until both sides are satisfied. And when it is done, parties often say, “You know, that was fun.”
Even if you are not currently involved in a dispute, and have no strife to resolve currently, you know things come up. We can all use a fuller tool-bag to deal with the conflicts that arise as a fact of life.
With effective tools for conflict management, the diversity of thinking in your team can lead to greatness. People in conflict can reach understanding and strengthen their relationships.
Make improv for conflict management a part of your organization’s in-service-training.