The Four C’s of Managing Conflict (Remotely)
When it comes to managing conflict remotely, there are four C’s that matter: Commitment, Communication, Conflict Resolution, and Camaraderie in a framework developed by attorney, mediator, negotiator and conflict resolution expert Damali Peterman.
Here’s how Damali CEO of Breakthrough ADR LLC, explained them at a Lunch and Learn this month:
The first C is commitment. Commitment involves loyalty, reciprocity, and investment. Unfortunately, these attributes may be in short supply due to our remote realities. The key to keeping a team committed is to focus on the individuals’ interests. Damali used the example of splitting an orange to illustrate how teammates can better communicate their interests.
Some would say just cut the orange in half and compromise, but Peterman suggests that there is another way to go about the problem:
Focus on the interest rather than the position. The position is two people want one orange. The interest is why they want the orange. One might want the orange zest for a pie while the other might want the fruit for the juice. You can increase commitment by asking about each other’s interests.
The next C is, of course, communication. Methods of communication have been limited during the pandemic and, when paired with an individual’s unique communication style, can lead to an entirely new mindset shift. The below chart demonstrates potential outcomes based on style pairings. While each style comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, it is important to remember to employ a healthy mix in the workplace.
Next is Conflict Resolution. Common conflicts arise over PIE; Power, Identity, and Emotion. When approaching a resolution and de-escalation, timing is key. Have a plan for a constructive and positive discussion. Engage in the act of problem-solving, instead of problem-telling. If emotion comes into play, lean into the heat. Don’t avoid acknowledging how something makes you feel. One go-to resolution strategy is the “Yes, and…” approach. For example, if someone says “the sky is neon green,” one would respond, “yes, and it is also blue.” This demonstrates that we should set the intention of adding to one’s perspective rather than accuse it and reminds us that often there is more than one right answer.
The final C is camaraderie. Camaraderie is the spirit of friendship or community that is essential in a successful work environment. Although 72% of employees feel that they are more productive in a remote setting, the majority agree that there is a distinct lack of socialization. Truthfully, the difference between organic and manufactured camaraderie is evident in a remote setting. We miss the casual interactions of a water-cooler conversation or going to grab coffee with our friends and co-workers, but that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on socialization. RG promotes camaraderie through our FriYay “shiner” meetings. This end-of-week wind down is a casual open forum where colleagues can shine a light on someone who was helpful, or did exceptional work that deserves to be shared. While it may not serve as a panacea to all our work woes, this team building event has quickly become a cherished weekly ritual that smooths the weekend entry for all to enjoy—stress- and conflict-free.
For more of Damali’s expertise check out these links: