4 Useful Conflict Resolution Exercises for the Workplace

While preventing conflict in the workplace is not always possible, finding ways to prevent conflict is always a good idea. There are many conflict resolution exercises for the workplace to try, all of which help strengthen your team and encourage empathy. Review a few exercise ideas here to inspire your conflict resolution efforts.

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The Two Dollar Game

This game was developed at MIT. It involves pairing team members into groups of two, then giving each pair two dollars. These pairs must divide the dollars in a way that satisfies both parties. And while dividing the dollars equally is the obvious choice, this game has a twist. One of the two individuals is tasked with a “secret objective.” They must 1) give their dollar away in exchange for a future favor, 2) bargain their dollar for something positive, such as a reputation boost or cup of coffee, or 3) take home as much money as possible.

The Two Dollar Game is designed to help employees deal with “aggressive negotiators and competitors” in effective ways that do not result in conflict or strife.

Storytelling

A little storytelling can bring your team together. Have a group of employees sit in chairs to form a storytelling circle, then have them take turns telling stories of real-life conflicts they have experienced. Each team member must talk about how they handled the conflict, including what they did right and what they did that wasn’t so right. Next, the team discusses the conflict story as a group, providing insights and suggestions as they go. Once everyone has a turn telling a story, they should have a better idea of how their peers handle conflicts and what makes up effective conflict resolution.

To avoid sensitive subjects and hurt feelings with this game, state that everyone has to pick a story from a previous job or other past experience. Discussing issues that happened within the current workplace can heighten rather than reduce tension.

You Said, I Heard

Conflict resolution exercises for the workplace can include You Said, I Heard. To play this game, have one employee make a statement. Another employee gives their interpretation of the statement, to which the first employee reacts. For example:

First Employee: “When can I expect the email outlining the latest team project?”

Second Employee: “You said [initial statement], but what I heard was ‘You never get project emails out in time.’”

First Employee: “I meant that I’m currently stressed out. The question was not meant to offend you or suggest that you turn things in late.”

The idea with this game is to avoid simple miscommunication issues that can result in large conflicts. Employees gain a better idea of the difference between intention and interpretation, and are less likely to make snap judgements as a result. They also learn to be more aware of what they are saying and the possible interpretations.

What Would You Do?

This question-based game allows employees to consider their actions in challenging situations. Example prompts can include:

  • How would you handle a supervisor taking credit for your work?
  • What if two employees currently in an argument used you as a go-between?
  • What would you do if a team member was spreading a lie about you?
  • How would you deal with an employee who rarely responds to your emails in a timely manner, but is always chatting away on Slack and in the company break room?
  • What would you suggest if a manager was increasingly hostile or openly favored one employee?

These are just some of the conflict resolution exercises for the workplace to enjoy! For more about conflict resolution, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today.

Kent McGroarty

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