“So, there will be a little knot in each team member’s stomach,” I said. “They will remember the discussion at the team meeting last week that was none too friendly, so you quickly adjourned. What are you going to do differently this week, assuming you are not going to avoid the discussion?”
Ron had to think. “I don’t want to avoid the conflict, but I do want to manage it.”
“And, how do you intend to manage it?” I asked.
“We need some sort of ground rules for the meeting when people disagree. I want to keep the emotions out of it,” Ron replied.
“What if emotions are all part of the conflict?” I smiled. “Because if there is a conflict, there are usually emotions attached.”
“But, it’s emotions that caused the conflict,” he insisted.
“Think about this shift,” I probed. “Emotion is part of the conflict, not necessarily the cause. And, if we don’t acknowledge the emotion, it will get stuffed down. Stuffed down emotion causes people to armor up, get defensive and go into self-protection. Could you ask a question to the group that would require each person to just check-in on what they were feeling last week during the altercation and how they feel today as we work toward resolution.”
“You mean like ask them to talk about their feelings?”
I nodded. “Yes. Like this. How did you feel last week during the discussion between Jim and Fred when things got heated?”
“Is that a question for me, right now?”
I nodded again. “Yes.”