One of the most important abilities any group should have is to manage conflict constructively. Without conflict management, group conflicts can make it very hard for any group to move from one stage of performance to next, let alone achieve their optimum performance level. Therefore, group conflict resolution is a combination of many different techniques and styles.
However, in order to effectively manage group conflict, it is essential to identify the reasons that lead to conflicts. Following is an outline of major reasons of group conflict and their management methods.
• Poor Communication: The most common communication mistakes that individual within a group make, and is to be avoided, is that they tend to personalize issues. Further, their body language does not corroborate with what they say, which tend to confuse the listener. Also, it is a very common practice to point the individual making the mistake, rather than the mistake being made.
One of the most critical mistakes is that we do not listen! It is a common practice not to listen to the words and message of the speaker and jump to self made conclusions. This leads to misunderstanding and useless arguments, which could have been avoided if the group member has listened properly, thus saving a lot of everybody’s time. Hence, one of the most important components of any group conflict resolution technique is communication. Good communication skills are an essential requirement for all the group members as it helps avoid major arguments.
• Low focus on problem solving techniques: Problem solving is not an in-born gift; rather it is an acquired skill. It is an exact method, which attracts very little attention despite it being very essential to group conflict resolution. It involves defining the problem, gathering information, analyzing that information, devising possible solutions, selecting the best one and then implementing it.
The problem that arises with low focus on this technique is that people tend to jump to conclusions, hence taking decisions that are not best possible. By implementing problem solving technique, a group can avoid conflict on the basis of factual information and hence can have consensus.
• Choosing inappropriate Conflict management technique: Once a conflict arises in a group, there are many techniques that can be used to manage it effectively and reap fruitful results. However, it can go wrong if you choose the wrong technique to handle the situation. One of the techniques is intervention, where the individuals having a conflict confront each other. However, it can either be done by an individual quietly pointing out the issue to the other individual in conflict, or the whole group can confront the culprit.
Whatever method is chosen, care must be taken that it will not backfire and will be taken well by the group member. One of the more effective methods is feedback, where you confront with a written response. This diffuses anger, and avoids direct confrontation.