I’ve got a challenge for you: name the last time you managed an event and enjoyed zero conflict. No disagreements, no quarrels or no fights of any kind whatsoever. I’ll give you a few seconds to think.
Time’s up. Did you get anything? Thought so.
It would take a miracle to get everyone to get along, especially when it comes to event organization. While conflict is inevitable in any type of business, you should never avoid it (and I really hope you don’t). Rather, you should face conflict before it blows up in your face. It’s just the right thing to do as a leader.
But why do we get conflict? Surprisingly enough, it’s just because of two things:
- Emotions. Each one of us can get emotional at times, especially with issues close to us. If we let emotions dictate our decisions, it’s likely it won’t go well in the end.
- Poor communication. Sometimes the medium makes it hard to understand what the other guy means. Sometimes it’s the people involved who don’t communicate enough or even worse, keep things secret.
Our tips revolve around how to resolve conflict by addressing these two main sources. First, let’s tackle emotions.
How To Rule Over Emotions (Instead of It Overruling You)
1. Address the hurt before it gets worse.
Disagreements are often the result of pent up bad feelings. Before those bad feelings even become bottled up, break the glass immediately by facing the problem head on.
Don’t worry, it’s okay to be scared of facing problems. Confronting people scares the pants out of me, too. But the trick is to keep that fear aside and act bravely and confidently. As a leader, it’s your job to face conflict.
When you do this, for sure there will be enough hurt to go around for everyone. But the pain everyone will feel now will be like a pinprick versus if you didn’t fix it here and now. Just be tactful about how you go about bringing up the issue (more on this later).
2. Use empathy to resolve conflict
Not all emotions cause problems when it comes to conflict. Empathy is one thing that actually helps you resolve conflict. That means getting people to meet face to face so each side can show empathy to the other.
Empathy is also remembering that everyone comes in with good intentions. This is a good start to the discussion since both sides are thinking of the other in a positive note, rather than a negative one.
3. Stay calm and everyone will, too
People often mirror the ones around them, so staying calm when discussing the issue also gets everyone to calm down. You can also lay this down as one of the rules of discussion, to hold both them and yourself accountable.
When everyone goes in and keeps a level head, any resolution that comes up will likely stick because it’ll be seen as a good solution. Remember that the definition of winning here is everyone walks away happy, not that someone wins and everyone else loses.
How To Proper Communication Makes Resolution Easier
4. Start by talking about the common ground.
Imagine running a race where everyone started wherever they wanted. It’s a nightmare, right? That’s why you have to establish common ground first. If everyone starts from the same spot, everyone goes in the same direction. So, start by talking about the similarities of each person. Isn’t it harder to disagree with someone that’s just like you?
5. Ask the right questions
To get to the heart of the problem, you need to gather information about the problem. Doing so sometimes feels like prying a manhole with a fork, so make sure you ask tactfully and focus on just getting the info you need. Some tricks you can use:
- Use “I” statements to make the other side relate to you, ex. “when you didn’t deliver on time, I had to adjust my own delivery schedule which meant I had to work through the night”.
- Give info to get info. Tap into the principle of reciprocity so that the other side gives their story willingly as well.
- Deliver questions in an attentive tone. Don’t you hate it when someone doesn’t look like they’re listening to you? This matters even more when you resolve conflict so make sure your responses are sincere and don’t sound canned.
6. Focus on the problem
This means you don’t let the discussion steer into other topics. The faster you get to a solution, the faster everyone can move on and get back to work.
- Offer a choice between two positives. That way, every choice is a win, at least in a small part.
- Attack the problem, not the person. It’s not about the person’s habits, his morals or even his mom.
- Be creative. Remember that conflict is opportunity. Sometimes the best solution isn’t the one that actually solves the problem directly.
And After You Resolve Conflict, You Should…
7. Celebrate agreement!
Once all parties agree on a solution, then it’s time to celebrate! Again, it’s not because everyone is 100% happy but it’s because everyone is happy, period. It still counts as a win and the best part is, everyone does win and nobody came out the loser.