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10 Practical Exercises to Resolve Conflict in Teams

In any team, conflict is inevitable. Whether it is a disagreement over a project or personal differences, conflicts can arise, and it's important to know how to handle them. Resolving conflict in teams is crucial for maintaining positive relationships, creating a productive work environment, and achieving your team's goals. In this blog post, we'll explore some strategies for resolving conflict in teams.


1. Identify the root cause

Before you can resolve a conflict, you need to identify the root cause. Often, the presenting issue is not the actual problem. Take the time to really listen to the parties involved to gain an understanding of the underlying issues and motivations that are driving the conflict

The following questions can help you gain a better understanding of a conflict and develop some effective strategies for resolving an issue:


  1. Can you tell me more about the situation that led to the conflict? What happened, and how did team members react?

  2. What emotions or feelings are present for you and the other team members involved in the conflict? What needs are not being met that are causing these emotions?

  3. What is at the core of the conflict? What are the fundamental beliefs, values, or assumptions that are driving the disagreement?

  4. How do you see this conflict impacting the larger organization, team or project?

  5. How do you feel about the way the conflict has been handled so far? Do you think that it has been appropriately addressed or resolved? If not, what steps can be taken to address this?

  6. What communication styles or patterns have contributed to the conflict? How can we shift communication patterns to create more understanding?

  7. How can we ensure that all team members are heard and feel valued in the conflict resolution process? What steps can we take to promote fairness and transparency?

  8. Are there any external factors (e.g. organizational changes) that may be contributing to the conflict? How can we address these factors in the resolution process?

  9. What strategies can we use to ensure that we learn from this conflict and prevent similar issues from arising in the future? How can we promote a culture of open communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution within the team?

By exploring the underlying emotions, beliefs, and values driving the conflict, you can help team members to feel heard and valued, and develop more empathetic and collaborative relationships.


2. Collaborate when it comes to solutions

When trying to resolve conflict in teams, try to involve all parties in the decision-making process and work together to find a solution that works for everyone. Collaborative problem-solving exercises are designed to help individuals work together to find mutually beneficial solutions.


Here are a couple you can try:


  • Brainstorming: In this exercise, participants work together to generate ideas and solutions to a particular problem or conflict. The group must focus on generating as many ideas as possible, without judgment or criticism. Once all ideas are gathered, the group can then evaluate and refine the most promising solutions.


  • Consensus-Building: In this exercise, participants must work together to develop a solution that everyone can agree on. This exercise requires active listening, empathy, and compromise, as participants work together to find a mutually beneficial solution.In a typical consensus building exercise, participants work together to find a solution that everyone can support, even if it is not their preferred option. The focus is on quality, not quantity.


  • Mediation: In this exercise, one person plays the role of a mediator, while the other participants play the roles of the parties in conflict. The mediator's role is to help facilitate communication and negotiation between the parties, with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable solution. This exercise can help participants develop skills in negotiation, active listening, and problem-solving.

Each of these exercises can be effective in resolving conflicts, depending on the nature of the conflict and the desired outcome.


3. Lead Role-Playing Exercises

Role-playing exercises can help individuals develop conflict resolution skills. Participants can practice various communication techniques, such as active listening, asking open-ended questions, and expressing empathy.


Role-play Exercise: Perspective-Taking

This exercise involves team members taking on the perspective of each other to better understand their point of view. It helps individuals gain insight into the thought processes and motivations of their colleagues, which can help to build empathy and facilitate more effective communication.


For example, one team member may take on the role of a customer while another team member takes on the role of a sales representative, allowing them to better understand the needs and concerns of the customer and how to effectively address them.


To hold this exercise, pair up participants and give each pair a conflict scenario. One person could play the role of a team member who is upset about a particular issue, and the other person could play the role of a team leader who needs to address the concern. Participants then switch roles.


Role-play Excercise: Difficult Conversations

This exercise involves team members practicing how to navigate challenging or uncomfortable conversations. In this exercise, team members can rehearse how to approach sensitive topics, express their concerns and opinions respectfully, and work towards a resolution. For example, team members may role play a scenario where a colleague's work is not up to standard, and practice how to communicate this feedback in a constructive way that motivates improvement.


4. Communicate clearly

Clear communication is key to resolving conflicts. Be direct and honest in your communication, and avoid using vague or passive language. Speak in a calm and respectful tone, and avoid interrupting the other person. If there is a misunderstanding, ask for clarification, and repeat back what you heard to ensure that you understand the other person's perspective.


5. Listen actively

When a team member raises a concern or disagreement, it's essential to listen actively. Listening actively means paying attention to what the other person is saying, understanding their point of view, and acknowledging their emotions. Active listening helps to create an open and honest dialogue, and it shows that you value the other person's perspective.


6. Focus on the problem, not the person

In a conflict, it's easy to blame the other person. However, this approach only makes the situation worse. Instead, focus on the problem and how to solve it. Try to depersonalise the conflict by discussing the issue, not the person. This will help to keep the conversation productive and avoid creating further tension.


7. Acknowledge power dynamics

Power dynamics can play a significant role in conflicts. If one team member holds a position of power, their opinions and ideas may hold more weight, leading to other team members feeling ignored or undervalued. Encourage all team members to share their thoughts and opinions, and work to create a culture of open communication and collaboration.


8. Follow up

After a conflict has been resolved, check in with all parties involved to ensure that the solution is working and that everyone is satisfied. If the conflict reemerges, revisit the issue and continue to work towards a solution. Following up helps to reinforce the resolution and shows that you value everyone's perspective.


9. Work with an Executive Coach

An Executive Coach can help you resolve conflict in teams by bringing an objective perspective and facilitating productive conversations. An effective coach can help you to identify the root causes of conflicts, develop effective communication strategies, and collaboratively solve problems, ultimately fostering a more cohesive and productive team.


10. Take Action

Don't let workplace conflicts hold you back. Take the first step towards a more cohesive and productive team by scheduling a free 30-minute consultation with me today. We can work together to identify the root causes of your conflicts and develop strategies for moving towards resolution. Click here to get in touch.






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