Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies
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A clear goal statement gives purpose and focus to a conflict-resolution meeting. More important, it serves as the criterion by which to consider all ideas and solutions to the workplace conflict. Be a strong facilitator and determine the goal of the first meeting; then assist the team in setting the goal statement for any additional meetings.

Here are some broad suggestions to get you started:

  • Clarify roles and responsibilities within a project or a team.

  • Discuss behaviors that are affecting the team.

  • Change or retool processes that aren’t working.

  • Create harmony and renew relationships.

Start with a broad idea of what you’d like to tackle, and then get specific before you communicate the goal of the meeting to the attendees. How you state the goal makes a difference in the attendees’ attitude and expectations. For example, a goal statement like, “The purpose of this meeting is to determine who is responsible for the breakdown in service” would result in a group of defensive participants full of accusations and ready to point fingers.

In contrast, “The purpose of this meeting is to determine proactive ways to limit the breakdown in services” sets the tone for a positive, productive discussion in which people’s ideas and creative thinking are appreciated. It acknowledges the problem but doesn’t dwell on the past or make accusations. Your goal statement should do the same.

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Vivian Scott is a Certified Mediator in private practice and a retired Microsoft marketing manager. She is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and volunteers as a mediator at the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties.

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