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Dealing with Conflict Presented by Maureen McConnell CHAOS Networker.

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1 Dealing with Conflict Presented by Maureen McConnell CHAOS Networker

2 Conflict is a normal part of life, it is how we deal with it that can cause problems.

3  Conflict within our organisations can involve:  Committee members  Staff  Volunteers  Participants /students  Stakeholders  Members of the association  Other agencies in a co location

4 Conflict needs to be considered as part of risk identification and management plan  Consider the impact that ongoing unresolved or poorly handled conflicts can have on your organisation’s  Morale  Reputation  Staff retention  Governance and decision making  Ability to achieve outcomes  Impact on the individuals involved and people not directly involved

5  How do you deal with conflict?  Avoid at all costs  Give in to keep the peace  Win at all costs  Try and find the best resolution for all involved  How does your organisation deal with conflict  Does your organisation invite differences of opinion  If differences are expressed are they considered respectfully  What known opportunities exist for committee, staff, volunteers and participants to express ideas, suggestions opinions or identify issues?

6 Physical response  Whilst many outside elements can influence how we respond, at the same time our bodies go into automatic response mode when we feel uncomfortable, threatened or confronted.  What are some of the physical reactions you have when you are in a situation of conflict?

7 Responding to conflict  Like in the olden days of cave men and dinosaurs our instinct when we feel confronted or attacked can be to fight back, run away or roll over and give in…  it is much harder to stop and,  think about how we wish to respond to produce the best outcome for everyone.

8 Positions vs needs  Often when people are in conflict it is because they have both taken a “position” on something.  When conflict is occurring it is important to not just consider what the parties want but why they want it  Digging deeper and looking at why someone wants something can often give us some ideas and creative solutions to work on

9 Obviously not all conflict is that simple  Conflicts can be very simple and very complex, they can involve lots of people or just two.  They can be very obvious or simmer under the surface  Erupt quickly or build up over a long period  Sometimes it is not possible to come to an outcome that everyone is happy with but it still needs to be “managed”.  Often when conflicts are left unchecked they can spiral into a bigger conflict where parties begin to perceive everything the other party does as being a purposeful action against them….. Can you think of situations where this has occurred?

10 How do we stop this from happening at an organisational level?  We can’t control how someone else reacts but we can put things in place to reduce the fallout to the parties and the organisation by:  Having an open and inclusive discussion about how the organisation deals with conflict at all levels from complaints to disputes and conflicts  Ensure people know what to do if a conflict arises and can’t be successfully resolved between the immediate parties  Identify and implement systems and practices that empower people to voice suggestions, opinions and ideas  Evaluate how this is working and implement changes

11 Ways to assist you to deal with situations of conflict.  It sounds trivial but in the first moment breathe and think about how your body is responding. Take a moment to calm down and think about how you wish to respond.  Whilst it might be initially satisfying to throw something, go out of your way to not interact with the other person, even leave the job…. in the long run this may only make the conflict worse  Think about why the conflict has occurred and find a way to communicate this with the other person…. Sometimes they might not even be aware there is a conflict  A minor situation could be easily dealt with be speaking with the other person. Consideration should always be given to any policies or practices of the organisation

12 Ways to assist  Think about the way you are speaking, what you are saying, what you are not saying but your body language is conveying  Use “I statements”  Remember that ‘I statements’ normally begin with: When (describe the action in neutral terms) I feel (describe the feeling) because ________________ and what I would like is _________________.  An I statement must be “clean”, no blame involved and avoid “you”.

13 I statements  Consider the difference in the following statements:  You never have your information to me on time and I am sick and tired of having to always chase you to get information, it makes me look really incompetent!  When I go to write the managers report to the committee and the childcare update is not ready I feel frustrated. What I would like is to have the childcare information by the Friday before the meeting. ….. Is that going to work for you?

14  Taking the time to formulate an I statement…even if it means in the first instance stating that you are upset and need a bit of time to get some perspective or think things over, allows you to react in a way that is constructive not destructive.  Sometimes taking time to think also lets us consider  Maybe the other persons idea/ suggestion/ problem is valid  Maybe there are legitimate workplace reasons or practices that need to be changed  Maybe we have not fully communicated what we want or they have not fully communicated what they want  We are not always right

15 Remember  It takes someone to initiate a different way of behaving  By opening up conversations and providing the opportunity to identify creative solutions you are creating the opportunities for everyone to feel they have been able to be part of the solution and walked away from the situation feeling the process was fair and the outcome was good.

16 It takes time  Any sort of change will take time and practice, both on an individual and organisational level  Consider starting by just thinking and having conversations about how things currently work.  Do people know what to do if an issue occurs?  Are they confident to deal with it/ there is a process to deal with it  Do people feel they are heard and their issues/ ideas/ problems are dealt with in a fair and timely manner?*

17 Finally  This has only skimmed the surface of dealing with conflict  There are fantastic free resources available through  The Conflict Resolution Network ( Australian based not for profit)  Your Network  The web based library on the ANHLC website

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19  If you would like more information my contact details are  Maureen McConnell  CHAOS Networker   Mobile:  Thank you for your participation


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