When it comes to resolving conflict in the workplace, prevention can be the “best medicine.” Conflict resolution activities for workplace help your team learn tools for preventing and dealing with assorted issues effectively before they become large, serious problems. Review conflict resolution activity ideas here to inspire upcoming team building events.
“You Said, I Heard”
This simple exercise is designed to improve listening and communication skills in team members. It involves two people participating at a time, with the first person saying something like “When will you send that email to the client?” The second person responds with, “I heard, ‘you take forever to get back to the client.’” The first person follows up with a “you heard, I meant” statement,” such as “You heard that you take forever to get back to the client. What I meant was, ‘we need to get that email out soon.’”
Using this exercise promotes empathetic feelings in addition to helping sidestep miscommunication issues.
Conflict resolution activities for workplace can include Four Words, which focuses on how different people handle and resolve various issues. The idea is to encourage communication despite having different opinions. To play this game, have each team member take a pen and pad or piece of paper. Ask them to write down four words that spring to their minds when they hear the word “conflict,” such as “anger,” “miscommunication,” “misunderstanding,” “upset,” “frustration,” and “tension.”
Once everyone is finished, have them pair up and review the eight words between them. They must decide which four of the eight are best associated with conflict, which can involve using negotiating skills. After the exercise, ask questions such as:
- Was there conflict during the “negotiations”?
- How did you feel about this activity?
- Did anyone try to harness control of the situation?
- Looking back, would you do anything differently?
- What techniques helped you decide on the four words?
- Did you learn anything from this exercise?
Since plenty of conflict resolution activities involve theoretical issues, consider this “confessional” exercise. It involves participants detailing real-life work conflicts they have experienced. To avoid hurt feelings, ask team members to talk about issues they had with previous jobs. You can also have them discuss non-work conflicts that they feel apply, such as issues with work-study jobs in college. Before each person shares their story, instruct them to hit the same points:
- What was the reason for the conflict?
- Why did the situation get worse?
- How did you resolve the issue?
- What did you do right to work past the problem?
- What did you learn?
- Is there anything you would have done differently?
- Did the incident help you resolve future conflicts effectively?
Honest confessions about work conflicts help team members see each other for what they are: flawed humans striving to better themselves. It also helps employees realize that most conflict issues are not the result of intentional or malicious actions, and usually fall into the “accident” category.
This exercise is arguably one of the most fun of its kind, since it allows your team to stretch their acting abilities. Choose conflicts from popular movies, such as the conflict between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith or the issue between Captain America and Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War. The conflict between Magneto and Professor Xavier in the X-Men films provides another possibility.
Have your employees act these conflicts out if they wish, or read from scripts. After each performance, lead a group discussion about what caused the conflict, what the two parties did right and wrong, and what everyone can learn from the dispute.
For help resolving your workplace conflicts, reach out to Pollack Peacebuilding today!