Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A Little More About Conflict Resolution at Events

From a practical standpoint, as the person in the middle of a conflict situation and ultimately the person responsible for resolving the conflict, a producer can defuse the situation by using both body and spoken language. Here are some tips that may help defuse a situation.

Body language is a very large part of how we communicate. In a conflict, it is necessary to demonstrate that one is interested, concerned, and listening attentively. The following are suggestions offered by the Justice Institute of B.C.’s Centre for Conflict Resolution to do just that:
  • Square your shoulders with the person. Face them directly rather than pointing energy in another direction. If they are very upset, you will want to attend to them obliquely (i.e. from a 30 - 45° angle). 
  • Concentrate fully on the person you're trying to understand. Avoid interruptions and habits which imply boredom (e.g. playing with pencil, fingernail, looking elsewhere). Definitely do not answer a cell phone (author). 
  • Open your posture towards the person. Arms and legs should be uncrossed, hands open, and in sight. 
  • Lean forward a bit if that is comfortable, but avoid crowding the other’s "personal space." If they move back, lean back a bit until your distance feels comfortable. 
  • Eye contact is important, but tricky. Be aware that in many cultures and sub-cultures, direct eye contact is a sign of disrespect, defiance, or challenge. Offer eye contact, but don't demand it. 
  • Relax. Try to incorporate these body messages into your personal style. Don't use them mechanically, but use them as an expression of your concern and interest.
Something to keep in mind when the going gets tough during event setup.

  • Justice Institute of B.C. (1991). Conflict Resolution: Dealing with Interpersonal Conflict. Vancouver: Justice Institute of B.C., Centre for Conflict Resolution Training.

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