Group Communication and Conflict Resolution (Ezine Article)

By James Gehrke | Submitted On January 09, 2007

As DeChurch and Marks state, “the manner in which groups handle emergent conflict may play a critical role in whether or not the conflict situation has a positive or negative impact on group outcomes”. The way a group communicates during conflict can mitigate conflict before it occurs or once it has occurred.

DeChurch and Marks identify positive and negative communication forces which affect the outcome of the conflict. The positive forces include; accommodating, compromising and collaborating. The negative forces include; avoiding and competing. Avoidance has the greatest negative influence on outcomes, followed by competing. If individuals avoid the debate and discussion which accompany conflict the team never can generate the best ideas to solve the issues, decreasing possible improvements. Competing in order to influence others can improve outcomes but damage relationships. The best possible outcome would be a combination of competition and collaboration, resulting in the sharing of creative ideas while maintaining and even enhancing the relationships of the team, which in turn can improve outcomes even further.

Knowing this, all team members must avoid avoidance and be willing to voice opinions, realizing that healthy debate will improve outcomes. Secondly, members should show willingness to compromise and collaborate in order to maintain the overall wellness of the team.

This of course is easier said than done. An effective communication method I have found useful to decrease avoidance and improve collaboration is to conduct a facilitative brainstorming session. Ground rules need to be set in advance in order to find the best method to ensure all members generate and defend ideas. Agreement should also be reached in advance on the process for selecting and implementing the best ideas. This method increases participation while enhancing collaboration.

Article Information

James Gehrke is the President of Magnify Leadership and Development.

After various promotions in Sales, Sales Operations, Training & Development, and Sales Management and Training, he headed Pfizer’s Learning & Development for all of Europe, Canada, Africa, & the Middle East where he was instrumental in the development of a global management curriculum and other training initiatives to enhance organizational effectiveness for over 30,000 employees. He has worked on many high levels, cross functional teams addressing issues such as Field Force Effectiveness, Change Leadership, Leader Behavior Development, Executive Coaching and many others.

Since starting his own training company, James has developed and trained both public and private leadership, coaching, targeting and territory management sessions for hundreds of participants in various industries. James is bilingual and can teach in both English and Spanish

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