Though we hope that all projects will run smoothly and all team members will work together with positive and collegial attitudes, conflicts do occasionally arise as we work on projects with others. However, every conflict does not necessarily lead to a completely negative ending. How you, as an individual, handle the conflict can (and will) have an effect on the overall outcome of the situation.

As your students work on their projects, they may appreciate some guidance that helps them deal with disagreements in a way that helps, rather than hinders, their progress. In Verbal Communication: Illustrated Course Guides, Second Edition, Jeff Butterfield offers some “do’s” and “don’t’s” for conflict management. We present them below:

 

DEVELOP PERSPECTIVE

Do

    • Take time to understand the problem or disagreement
    • Consider how the other person perceives the conflict
    • Be prepared to see all points of view

Don’t

    • Don’t confront another person without considering their point of view
    • Don’t belittle the suggestions, ideas, or contributions of others

 

ACKNOWLEDGE THE CONFLICT

Do

    • Listen actively and empathetically
    • Acknowledge a difference in opinion or a misunderstanding using neutral, objective language

Don’t

    • Don’t assume you understand the problem

 

KEEP COMMUNICATING

Do

    • Continue to exchange information and ideas
    • Consider the timing of conflict-resolution conversations

Don’t

    • Don’t withdraw from conflict
    • Don’t try to avoid all conflicts

 

CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS

Do

    • Apologize for unprofessional expressions of anger
    • Maintain your objectivity
    • Take a break as necessary

Don’t

    • Don’t intimidate or manipulate others to get your way
    • Don’t raise your voice or otherwise lose control of your anger

 

FOCUS ON THE PROBLEM

Do

    • Discuss the problem and how to solve it
    • Demonstrate that you understand other points of view

Don’t

    • Don’t blame others for causing the problem
    • Don’t reject ideas and suggestions from others (83)

 

Reference: Butterfield, Jeff. 2013. Verbal Communication: Illustrated Course Guides, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.

Copyright Cengage Learning. 

 

Do you provide students with guidance for handling any conflict that may arise in their groups? What are some of your suggestions? Share them below.