Sometimes it happens that people on your team or within your company have conflicts with each other. There are several reasons why these conflicts occur and often it is hard to find a solution for that conflict.
For me it is very important that people who have conflicts with each other are talking about them at latest within a few days after the conflict showed up. Then there is a huge opportunity to solve the conflict without creating more conflicts.
I like moderating such meetings where both parties are describing the conflict and problem from their point of view. But there was often a problem in these meetings. They never ended in discussion the conflict or finding solutions. People were not discussing the reason for the conflict and they often won’t collaborate to solve the conflict. Both parties want to have their solution implemented the way they describe it.
After a couple of such conflict moderations wanted to see if I can change the way how people talk to each other in such conflict situations. And I’m happy to show you how it worked for me. I still use this method a lot also for smaller conflicts.
Conflict moderation with The Weather Chart
I’m a big fan of moderating meetings with visuals and post-its or other cards. That’s why I used the following picture in my recent conflict discussions.
I used this chart with the four quaters to let both participants describe different perspectives on each other and the conflict. This could be both, either a work related opinion they think is related to the conflict or personal opinions or behaviours they think had an impact to that conflict.
The interesting part I like by using this method is to not only focus on the negative things but also the positive behaviours or circumstances both parties recognized at each other.
- The sun quarter (upper-left corner): Here are behaviours / circumstances that I really like and would like to see also in the future from you.
- The cloud quarter (upper-right corner): Here are behaviours / circumstances that I’m ok with but sometimes they bother me. We may work on these.
- The rain quater (lower-left corner): Here are behaviours / circumstances that I don’t like and we should work on these to solve our conflict.
- The storm quater (lower-right corner): Here are behaviours / circumstances that I
hatereally, really dislike and we have to work on these to solve our conflict.
How to use The Weather Chart in a conflict discussion?
- Both parties get some Post-it notes and are requested to write down a word or a short sentence on each note. Everyone has to write at least one note per quater, there are no limits at the top.
- Both get approximately 10 minutes to write their thoughts on the notes.
- The moderator and participants decide how they will go throught their notes (popular choices from my meetings):
- Moderator takes all notes and posts them on the chart like he thinks in which order they should be explained.
- One participant posts his/her notes and explaines each of them. The other participant listens to the explanation.
- Each one of the participants takes one note and explains it to the other person. Then they switch after this note was explained. (most popular and my favorite)
- Once you have choose a moderation method, the notes have to be placed in the corresponding quater before the participant explains what he has written on the note.
- IMPORTANT! The person who is not describing their note only listens to the arguments of the other person. This is kind of a feedback to each other and only the moderator can interrupt because of rude explanations.
- After everyone has explained all their notes this chart will help to create tasks that will solve the conflicts.
- The goal now is to identify actions or tasks both parties will work on to solve the conflicts and move the notes from the storm quater to the sun quater. Ideally all notes will move to the sun quater but most important is that there are no more notes in the storm quater after a short period of time, of course depending on the conflict.
- The moderator will only help to take notes and make the ideas actionable. The participants have to think about ideas.
- After you collected all the ideas the moderator discusses with the participants the top 3 actions they will comit to take action. The other ideas are kept in the meeting minutes or on the chart and will help in the review meeting after a couple of weeks to see if the conflicts have been eliminated.
I hope this method will also help you in moderating your next conflict. You may also use this chart to give a feedback on behaviours of your employee. I will explain that in another post in the future.
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