How to Collaborate Virtually

Collaborating in a digital age

Conflict Resolution on November 30, 2016 at 5:58 pm


Conflicts can arise at any time. How you utilize conflict resolution strategies depends on both your conflict style and your conflict resolution skills. There are many different ways to respond to conflict situations; some conflict styles involve a considerate or cooperative approach while others involve either a competitive or passive approach.

The first step in conflict resolution is understanding the various styles of conflict. The five styles of conflict include:

Avoiding the Conflict
Avoiding or withdrawing from a conflict requires no courage or consideration for the other party. By avoiding the conflict, you essentially pretend that it never happened or doesn’t exist. Some examples of avoidance or withdrawal include pretending there is nothing wrong, stonewalling or completely shutting down.

Giving In
Giving in or accommodating the other party requires a lot of cooperation and little courage. Basically, you agree to accommodate the other party by acknowledging and accepting his point of view or suggestion. This style might be viewed as letting the other party have his way. While this style can lead to making peace and moving forward, it can also lead to the accommodator feeling resentment toward the other party

Standing your Ground
While standing your ground requires courage, it can also be inconsiderate. By standing your ground, you are essentially competing with the other party; you’ll do anything to ensure that you win the battle. The fact is, a competitive approach offers short term rewards, but in the long term effects can be detrimental to your business.

Compromising is a big step toward conflict resolution. Both courage and consideration are used when both parties look for common ground. You agree to negotiate larger points and let go of the smaller points; this style expedites the resolution process. Occasionally, the person compromising might use passive-aggressive tactics to mislead the other party, so beware.

Collaboration plays a major role within conflict resolution and requires great courage and much consideration. Collaborating with the other party involves listening to their side, discussing areas of agreement and goals, and ensuring that all parties understand each other. Collaboration requires thinking creatively to resolve the problem without concessions. Collaborators are usually admired and well-respected.

A Team’s Well-Being

The well-being of your team is dependent upon knowing how to deal with conflict (Correia, 2008). Research has shown a mixture of compromising and collaborating on team issues are most effective in resolving unrest. Additionally, being aware of main sources of conflict among group members will alleviate many issues before they begin. These sources of conflict can be broken down into two levels: The relationship level and the task level.

Sources of relationship conflict:

  • Language issues
  • Communication styles
  • Personality traits
  • Lack of teamwork experience
  • Varying priorities and motivations

Sources of task conflict:

  • Project deadlines
  • Final project expectations
  • Quality of project deliverable
  • Instructional design elements
  • Instructional theory selection
  • Technology usage

When dealing with conflict, if your group cannot meet face-to-face, it is best to use video-conferencing technologies that will allow members to read non-verbal cues. At the very least, a group phone call is better than an email or text message, which may exacerbate issues if the message is interpreted incorrectly.

Five easy steps to conflict resolution. Act as a mediator!

Step 1: Identify the source of the conflict. Ask your collaborators questions to get to the source of the problem.

When did you begin feeling upset?

What happened that made you feel upset?

Resolution is easier when you know why there is conflict. Ask each member the same questions. Be understanding and try to remain neutral so they will open up to you.

Step 2: Look beyond the incident. Again, ask questions to make sure the source of the conflict actually has to do with the project and not personal differences that may have begun before the project even began.

What do you think happened?

When did the problem first arise?

Step 3: Request solutions. Now that you have each person’s point of view, ask them for ideas in how to resolve the situation.

How do you think things could improve?

What steps would you like to see taken to resolve the conflict?

Step 4: Identify solutions everybody can support. While you’re requesting solutions from your co-collaborators, make note of the best solutions that will benefit the project. Perhaps better communication is all that’s needed.

Step 5: Agreement. Your job now is to get the rest of the team to agree. Outline the solutions. The others should be on board, because it was their suggestions that facilitated the agreement!

Watch the conflict resolution video!