Life

Solve conflict by staying optimistic 0

Anny Chih photo

By Anny Chih, 24 hours Vancouver

(FOTOLIA)

(FOTOLIA)

Conflict is inevitable when groups of strangers are tasked to work together. The issues can be small and easily written off, but when a problem needs action, it helps to keep in mind that nobody is looking to attack anyone intentionally.

The first step to solving an issue is to identify it. A problem is never a person, but it can be something that a person does. For example, it can be irritating to work with a classmate who dominates all group discussions. The problem is not the classmate, but it could be his dismissive attitude towards his peers, or even a lack of active participation from other members of the group. Chances are that he’s not looking to make enemies, so perhaps he’s simply unaware that dominating a group meeting turns a discussion into a lecture.

To remedy an issue, evaluate the alternatives. In the case of an irritating classmate, you could ignore his actions completely and hope that you’re not paired together again next term or stage a coup with the other team members to hold group meetings without him.

The first option will leave you and your peers resentful while the second will probably hurt him and leave you feeling guilty.

Instead, a more effective alternative is to address the problem directly with the person most capable of resolving it. If the problem is a classmate’s dismissive attitude, speak with him one-on-one.

It can be difficult to talk to someone about something they do that you don’t appreciate. The words can easily come out like an unintentional verbal attack. To avoid this, speak as though you want to remind him that just like he isn’t trying to insult anyone during meetings, nobody is looking to hurt him either. It’s not about him and his actions. It’s about your feelings and how he can help.

For example, rather than saying “You don’t let anyone else talk during meetings,” a less confrontational approach would be to say, “I feel we could come up with some really great ideas if everyone would speak more during discussions. Since everyone listens to you during meetings, I was hoping you could help by asking for everyone else’s opinions.”

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