Resolving Conflict by Engaging

Published: 15th July, 2020

If you’re looking for a balanced approach to resolving conflict by engaging here’s our way to stay personal whilst working closely to the context of the business setting. This is a fine balancing act requiring best practice approaches on either side of the same coin. In the current working environment organisations are likely to see conflicts arising from changes to working practices that impact the individual in the businesses for which they work.


If you’re following our webinar series you’ll know we don’t shy away from the difficult conversations. I was joined by Louisa Weinstein of the Conflict Resolution Centre to perform a live demonstration of how a mediation may progress using a real example provided by one of the delegates. We haven’t provided a recording of this session due the example shared.

Conflict In Person and In Business

We asked for a series of examples which were described on our Digital Kit board. One delegate presented a situation that has been common in many organisations.  She had identified the need during lockdown to give team members the opportunity to connect, engage with each other, talk about things other than work and COVID 19.  She identified this as important in terms of building relationships, ensuring that challenges people were experiencing personally were not swept under the carpet and create a bit of light relief.  The sessions were structured and thought was put into themes for each session to keep the virtual coffee mornings energised and engaging.  She was happy with the result and so were the participants.

The delegate then told us that instead of being rolled out in other teams, the coffee mornings were abruptly stopped by “management”.  Without prompting the context of the business in Big Picture terms was already becoming evident by identifying the connection between the delegate in Operations and the “management”.

Using the Ask and Listen section, Louisa reflected back what the delegate had said.  In the reflection it became obvious that in the shutting down of sessions by “management” the organisation had become faceless and cold immediately creating a feel of “them and us and exacerbating the alienation that employees were feeling more generally as a result of COVID 19.


Specific and Well-Understood Conflict

Martin then enacted the Tell mechanism and reflected on the impact that seemed to have on communication.  He then Asked whether this had an impact on deliverables.  The delegate said that it did but what also became clear was that she identified that an individual had shut down the coffee mornings not “management” or “the organisation”.  She further went on to clarify that she thought he felt threatened by the fact that he had not introduced the coffee mornings.

This is about honing down on the context within the business. Examples being where the individuals see themselves in the business, using the Team symbol, and a translation to a Challenge using it’s own symbol. Identifying and describing these by being active in the Big Picture board is an element of engagement that we like encourage.

Extending the understanding of the conflict, as a Challenge, to consider further aspects of the other Big Picture symbols such as (other) Teams, Measure, Process maybe less so Technology, Customer and Money.

Conflict in Context Connected to the Business

Limted with time in the live session were weren’t able to fully demonstrate looking up and out to the wider context of the business to complete the Tell and to develop the conversation between the Personal  and the Business. The outome of that would be to identfiy related areas of the business that are directly effected by the conflict and others that are identified as being indirectly impacted. An example here would be link a success Measure in the business to relate to the specific conflict area such as what success means to the Operations team.

With the conflict better understood in the context of the business the next step to resolving conflict by engaging would be to use this as a basis for exploring the personal approach to:

  • Decide if the delegate wanted to raise it with the individual and what she would win or lose personally by raising it or not raising it;
  • Consider that if the delegate was not going to raise it to look at how she was going to reconsider solve her feelings of remorse about how her team were treated in order that she did not react to it at a later stage;
  • Consider raising the situation with the individual.  This would involve supporting them to look at the Big Picture effect of shutting down engagement in this way and particularly the potential impact on Deliverables and Communication which was a common priority for both parties.   The conversation may include negotiation of both the coffee breaks and whether and how to re-instate them but also a more subtle negotiation that would allow for backtracking.

If you would like a demonstration of how we are resolving conflict by engaging please contact us!

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Find out more about our ‘Art of People Development’ Workshop will be coming soon! The stuff we care about is all over our YouTube channel @YourBigPic. You can have a go yourself by printing and writing on the one-pager here for a business YOU care about. I would love to take you through a taster of Big Picture in a Webinar you can sign-up for here.

And thanks for reading!