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Address conflict in the group before it gets out of hand.

Frequent causes of conflict include: Unequal sharing of work (social loafing) and disagreement on content of work.

  • If conflict arises in the group, acknowledge it and decide to manage it as a group.
  • Remember that some conflict is part of creative problem solving and can be a positive contribution to the group’s progress
  • Stress that group work requires compromise and negotiation
  • Clearly identify the area of dispute and the conflicting perspectives
  • Work towards establishing the areas of agreement and common ground
  • Give everyone in the group the chance to speak
  • Invite those involved in the conflict to put forward a strategy for going forward
  • Take a break to diffuse the situation if necessary
  • Don’t get personal

If conflict persists: talk to your lecturer, tutor, or mentor and arrange a time for them to meet with the group and negotiate a resolution of the conflict. For further resources on dealing with conflict go to Working in Teams.

Useful language: conflict arising from work not being done

Your contribution is really important to the group and you agreed to have your section finished by today. Can we make a firm agreement about when you will have it finished?
Can you tell us what the problem is? Maybe we can help you deal with it.
I understand you’re busy but we need your section by Friday. Do you think you will be able to have it done by then?
I’m happy to help… so bring what you’ve done and I’ll meet you before the lecture.

Useful language: disagreement

I can see what you mean but I think...
That’s one way of looking at it...
That’s great, but now we need to...
Perhaps we could try doing it another way...
Is there a possibility that both points of view can be accommodated?