Over the years I have increased my work experiences. I consider any experiences to be valid and important, and even more so when these experiences come to enrich and add effective learning. In this journey, I faced many difficult situations and I come here to talk about one of them, solving team conflicts. I have observed some standards that are repeated and I want to share this directly and clearly. Thus, I started to consider certain factors.

We agree that “difficult situations are for adults”, yet there are adults who often ignore or put off situations in order not to face the problem, outlining immature behavior. Resolving conflicts is a way of reaching maturity and responsibility, because you start to acquire more confidence, you become an increasingly stronger person and the most important thing is that you start to be more humble in admitting your failures.

Many people consider that resolving conflicts is a difficult task, but this is due to some factors that are perceived:
- They are not used to resolving conflicts.
- Some are always in self-defense mode.
- They failed trying to resolve conflicts in the past.
- They have emotional blocks.
- Some simply choose not to resolve conflict, because it is an easier option.
- Others will not want to confront their boss.
- And some have immaturity.

We experience the day when situations arise, ideas arise, different points of view appear, there are differences of opinion in problem solving, among others, this means that differences are always in fact happen, and this is something normal in everyday life. We must not prevent conflicts, we have to be better than that. Sometimes, we need to create conflicts to get out of a common knowledge state to evolve, this can emerge new ideas, otherwise, we will not be successful in making important decisions, because when nobody disagrees with an idea, we are not innovating and we are not changing the common knowledge state, this means that we are inside a loop and cannot get out of it until a divergence occurs.

When the team is not succeeding in resolving a conflict, it is the leader’s role to take the lead to solve the conversation. The leader’s action has to be immediate and can not leave it for later. The conflict must be resolved quickly, otherwise, the situation can get ugly, people may no longer want to work together, people can make the problem grow very fast, and people will feed it more and more resulting in a harmful situation for the company and team. Knowing that team works every day together, we can’t let that kind of thing happen. In this scenario, where the people involved in the conflict are not able to solve the problem, the leader’s intervention is necessary to address the situation.

The leader’s role should be an intermediate, where he will create space for each person to speak and when one is speaking, the others should listen. It is imperative that the leader influences people to pay attention to each other in an attempt to really understand different points of view and why the others are think that way, otherwise, if everyone gets into the conversation armed, it will be a disaster. Therefore, it is the role of the leader to lead the conversation to avoid this, encouraging everyone to speak and also listen the opposite opinion.

The leader must work to identify the specific point of disagreement among colleagues, so he will understand what is the disagreement that is happening. After truly understanding the reason for disagreement, the leader can use an approach that will involve abstracting the conversation until it reaches a point of agreement between the parties, imagine an inverted pyramid, where the highest part is the most general subject and the lower part is the most specific subject (like a funnel). Therefore, how most specific is the subject, then greater are the chance of disagreement and how most generic is the subject, then greater are the chance of agreement.

While the leader is conducting the conversation he can oscillate between the most general subject and the most specific subject, so that it is possible for a colleague to better understand the point of view of another colleague. There will be no winners or losers at the end of the conversation, but an real understanding of the everybody intention.

We must not make efforts to prevent conflicts from occurring; this is not the right approach because the existence of disputes represents team maturity and evolution. It is better to focus on making it possible for people to resolve conflicts independently without requiring intervention.
When the team member chooses not to disagree with another member, it is a worse scenario because this guy is irresponsible with the purposes and principles that guide this team. The thought “I don’t want to be upset with the guy” means that you are eliminating the opportunity of improvement, or you are no longer engaged for collaboration. In my opinion, that behavior is worse than someone who does not know how to deal with a different idea. This another guy at least defends his point of view and cares about the final result, unlike the individual that doesn’t want to try and don’t care about it.

Originally published at https://medium.com on May 15, 2020.

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