Skip to main content.

Common rules for handling conflicts

Few teams define common rules for handling conflicts and disagreements in advance. The primary focus is on what you are going to create and how you want to work together, not what is going to happen if anything goes wrong.

Conflicts: Agree on common terms when things are good

It can be difficult and feel unnecessary to discuss worst-case scenarios when everything is fine. But conflicts will always emerge and dealing with them is a lot easier before judgment is tainted by emotions and needs.

Mapping of reactions of oneself or others without anyone feeling attacked is also easier if you are not already crossed.

A way to prepare for disagreements is by exploring each other’s style of conflict. Partly to be able to reach out and help each other to a new (common) path. Partly to utilize differences in values, ways of thought and ways of reacting constructively when you are trying to agree on common norms.

Style of conflict: Are you a hawk or a pigeon?

How do you react when disagreements emerge? Will you return fire head on, do you withdraw or will you try to calm the waters?

Humans are different when handling conflicts. The more you know of your personal style, the easier it will be to react with awareness and well thought out – leaving the amygdala out. And it will be easier to accept the reactions of others, too

Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann who developed the Thomas-Killmann conflict model divides us into 5 profiles according to our style of conflict management:
  • Contending (you fight)
  • Avoiding (you flee)
  • Accommodating (you submit)
  • Compromising (you mediate)
  • Collaborating (you investigate)

Use your differences in a common agreement

Not one style is the right one. It changes with the situation and the need. Everyone has to practice something new to support productivity and well-being within the team.

When you set out to agree on terms for dealing with conflicts start with your differences and explore what each style can do for you. This way everyone is comfortable within the norms and you have the best opportunity to shape your behavior for each situation.