In the event of a conflict, each person should be given a chance to state their own views and potentially summarize the other person's view. The chair or group can decide what to do, or you can have a separate meeting.
- What about arguments or conflicts happening between people at your meeting? Well, a certain amount of debate is probably a good thing, but it mustn't become personal and go beyond the subject under discussion or beyond the time, or carry on outside of the meeting. A good assertiveness technique is to point out the process. Point out that it's getting emotional or that swearing doesn't help. Or that there are no facts, just opinions being banded around, or that the meeting has got bogged down, and that you want to suggest a process for solving the situation.
Everyone will probably be relieved that someone has decided to get control of the mess. But what process to suggest in order to get a resolution to the argument? The textbook way to deal with disputes is to get each person to outline their views while the other person just has to sit and listen. And then let each person ask a few questions of the other person to check their understanding. And then they each have to summarize what they now think are the views of the other person.
This forces them to really listen and try to understand the other person, and it also means that if they don't understand the other person's argument you can discover this fact and then clarify what the other person is trying to say. Most disputes come from lack of understanding, so this is a great method to try. Then, if neither of them is prepared to concede or suggest a compromise, either the leader or the group have to decide who they will agree with. It's quite powerful to say, if you can't come to an agreement between yourselves, then I'll decide, and you probably don't want that.
It sort of brings them together against you and helps them to compromise and find an agreement. Alternatively, if it's a big and important debate, you could consider suggesting that you park it and have a separate meeting just to address that one issue. And of course the final option is to consider replacing one or both of the protagonists for the next meeting, so at least there's less chance of a repeat. So, do you ever get arguments in your meeting that go beyond the point of being reasonable? Could you imagine pointing out the process? And would it help to get each side to summarize their position, and then summarize the position of the other person? Or could you change the personalities for next time?
- Setting up meetings
- Determining who needs to attend a meeting
- Choosing your meeting duration
- Providing reminders for successful meetings
- Facilitating a successful meeting
- Getting the best out of people
- Dealing with latecomers and common meeting problems
- Deciding if you should go to a meeting
- Making your voice heard
- Managing remote or virtual meetings