As a manager you should certainly be able to handle conflict.
Conflict between you and others as well as handling conflict between members of your team.
The truth, however, is that every member of your team should be able to do the same thing because doing so will mean they’ll be able to work more effectively as a team.
So whether you’re looking for some ideas to use with your team or a trainer looking for a conflict exercise to use on a course here are a couple of useful activities for you to use.
Conflict resolution exercises
Objective: To get team members to work through conflicts, differing opinions and how different team members handle conflict.
Each team member has a pen and a piece of paper. Ask them to write 4 words down that they associate with the word “conflict”
Ask them to pair up and between the two of them they must decide on the best 4 words out of the 8 they have written down between them. So the pair will have 4 words at the end.
Each pair will pair up with another pair and the process goes on again. Repeat this until you have half of the team negotiating with the other half of the team to produce the 4 best words between them that they associate with the word “conflict”
Ask the group:
Objective: The goal here is to encourage everyone to come to a final decision, working together to make a fair negotiation.
While we often suggest playing this game with real money, you can take some sort of play money to use instead.
Here’s how to play:
Divide your team into two groups so that one can be the “management” and the other can represent “employees.”
Each group will start it’s own “pot” of money. Each person will pay a different amount into the pot but no one will know how much anyone else put into the pot.
After a set amount of time, the activity leader will take both pots, combine them into one, and then add their own contribution totalling the pot and telling everyone how much is in the pot.
Everyone will know how much he contributed individually but no one will know how much anyone else, from their own team or the other, contributed. No one knows how much the activity leader contributed either.
The teams will each have 10 minutes to decide how to fairly split the total of the pot amongst everyone in the room. After 10 minutes the managers and employees must come together and negotiate a final outcome.
Try to keep the atmosphere in the room friendly. It is, after all, fake money and no one is going to lose anything at the end of the day!
Use the same style of debrief questions as above.
Conflict management ice breaker activity
My favourite conflict resolution activity to use is called “Everything before the BUT is BS!”
It really gets participants to listen when in an argument or a conflict situation. Normally both parties are hell bent on winning that they don’t listen to the other person because they are too focused on what they are saying next.
This ice breaker activity changes that!
Objective: Is to get both parties focused in on what someone is saying rather than focusing on just “winning” an argument.
Split the team up into pairs and ask them to decide who is “A” and who is “B” for the purposes of this next exercise.
Pick a topic that is controversial in nature. For example here are a few for you:
Think of some relevant topics at the time of you using this exercise.
Each pair has 5 minutes to win the argument. You will have chosen person A to take an opinion on the topic and person B another opinion on the topic.
Person A will argue for the motion. Person B will argue against it.
After the 5 minutes ask the following:
Using the same topic both parties will have 5 minutes again but this time neither of them is allowed to use the word “But”
Each pair need to keep a tally of how many buts they used.
Have the same debrief as before. The comments will amuse you.
See who said the most buts.
Once again both parties will have 5 minutes. Give them a different topic and different sides and this time they are not allowed to use “But” or “However”
Before I sign off, here are some more great resources to help you:
Originally published: 29 May, 2020
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