Conflict is often negatively associated with a disagreement and a quarrel, but we already know that it comes from the Latin conflictus and means “clash” of views or ideas, and this favors the emergence of new ideas. It is thanks to the mixing of ideas that we improve what we are working on. Conflicts are therefore not to be feared. Creative conflict is a working tool for a good team. To fully use it, you must first get used to this concept. This game. I came up with just that.
Conflict and me – defining meanings.
The first step in getting used to conflict is understanding yourself and how I perceive, understand, and value certain concepts related to conflict. Do this part of the exercise calmly and alone. Don’t look for answers in dictionaries, don’t google their meanings. Print out a set of cards and think about what these terms mean to you. There is no such thing as a wrong answer – write your own 100% subjective.
Conflict and me – evaluation of meanings.
The next step will be to evaluate the meanings, i.e. to try to describe the emotions that evoke you. Look at each card and try to remember the situation that has occurred and is described by this definition.
For example, when describing “discussion” think about:
- When did you take part in the discussion?
- What were your emotions then?
- Was the discussion lively?
- Did you agree with the opponent?
- How did this discussion end?
- Are the discussions always negative?
Try to come up with as many positive and negative examples from your life as possible and judge subjectively whether a given word has a positive, negative or neutral overtone for you. On the scale above the card, mark the extreme emotional load this word carries for you.
Conflict and us – confrontation of meanings.
The next step is to compare your definitions and ratings with the rest of the team. Yes, you will now check how you understand these concepts and what emotional charge you are giving them. This is nothing but a confrontation! Start with the first card and have each of you share how you define this meaning. Any order.
As you do this exercise, watch your team, yourself and your feelings.
- How did you feel when you heard others define the concept similarly?
- How did you feel hearing others define a given concept differently?
- Do the same concepts carry the same emotional charge for everyone?
- Are team members trying to convince each other that their “emotional value” of a word is correct?
- How do they do it? What words do they use?
- What is the atmosphere like during the conversation?
- Have any of the meanings you defined occurred? For example, is anyone trying to negotiate a compromise?
- How do you perceive this attempt to negotiate in line with the emotional charge you gave it?
Conflict and us – the sequence of events.
Once you understand each other what your understanding of conflict terms is, try to put these words into meaningful patterns. You can describe many different relationships, you may not use all the words, you can add additional words, but first, be sure to define them and give them an emotional charge.
This part of the exercise aims to find conflict pathways and cause-effect relationships, if any.
Check if the paths are emotionally homogeneous, for example, do all the expressions you have given a positive note form a closed set?
Try to find dependencies between meanings.
An example – although not correct, because there are no right and wrong answers in this exercise – can be found in the picture below.
How to read this diagram?
From the bottom:
Different points of view lead to discussions that end up negotiating for a compromise.
A variety of ideas is needed if we want to have a successful brainstorming.
Differences of opinion and disputes can lead to conflict. The conflict does not have to be exposed (holding a grudge). The disclosed conflict leads to a confrontation that does not have to be negative in itself, therefore it is marked as neutral. A poorly conducted confrontation can get out of hand and escalate, leading to an argument.
If you don’t know how to start building thought patterns, place your cards on the table and start grouping them into different sets.
Group the positive / negative / neutral cards – what happened? Do you see any dependencies?
- Think of a conflict situation like two different ideas for solving a problem, or a car purchase negotiation, a book discussion club, and think about how this situation might develop in the timeline. Where will you start?
- What might happen next?
- What is the negative path of this situation?
- Is there a positive path and a compromise?
If you see a tendency towards negative developments, add a card called “de-escalation” to the pool and try to turn negative paths into positive ones.
Take pictures of your diagrams and keep them. They will be useful during the “Conflict De-escalation” exercise.