Tuesday, July 17, 2007

When Conflict Emerges within Your Groups

I've had a number of questions recently from newer facilitators regarding what do you do when conflict emerges within the groups you are working with.

The good news is, that conflict is inevitable within the group context. Just as I wrote several months ago on my post about the Stages of Group Development, part of the process of group formation is conflict during the storming stage. It is during this stage that conflict emerges as the individual group members start to feel out their roles within the group.

Conflict can be as subtle as the withdrawl of a participant (shutting down) or as extreme as verbal conflict emerging between two participants. So what do you do?

Typically when conflict emerges in one of the groups I am working with, I point to what I am observing, indicating that conflict is the sign of a healthy team/group. If the conflict is disrtuptive for the group process, I will speak privately with the pair/individual at a break (at the usual time or a "spontaneous break" if things are spiraling downward). Duing this one-on-one discussion I will indicate what I am observing and what I am seeing in terms of the impact on the group. Using a powerful question such as "What do you want to create in this environment" shifts the reponsibility and outcome fully to the participant.

Conflict can emerge due to :
* Lack of clarity of roles within the group
* Lack of clarity of where the program is going
* Expectations not being met
* Insecurity
* Fear

What situations have you had when conflict has emerged in your groups? How have you handled it?

As always, I would welcome your thoughts and comments - please feel free to comment below.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CHRP, CPT
Potentials Realized
Group Coaching Essentials
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960
Email: info{at}potentialsrealized{dot}com

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