Conflict mediation

Conflict is a natural part of life. Whenever people get together, whether it's online or in person, there will be conflicts. 

This guide will go over how activists can mediate conflict by detailing:

How to minimize conflict

How to approach a tense situation

How to manage conflict online

Minimizing conflict

The best way to minimize conflict is to create a space where people feel heard and validated. Though not everyone will always agree on everything, these differences won't lead to conflict if they are understood and appreciated perspectives. You can respect someone without agreeing with all of their views. 

Tools for Change has a great worksheet about proactive measures to prevent conflict. This guide mentions active listening and giving feedback. Seeds for change also has a guide on giving and receiving helpful feedback

It's important to clarify what you understood someone to have said, to reduce miscommunications as well as commenting on someone's behaviour rather than their personality (ie that thing you did was upsetting rather than you're upsetting).

Approaching conflict

When coming into a conflict between two people, act as a facilitator rather than taking sides. Sometimes an outside mediator can give a fresh perspective and help both parties come to an understanding. Encourage acknowledgment, taking responsibility and mutual respect. If the conflict is complicated and heated, suggest both parties take some time to cool off and reflect. After the conflict is resolved, make sure people "check in" with each other to gauge responses and reduce future conflicts.

How to manage conflict online

It's difficult to reign in online comments that get out of hand, as there is anonymity. If there is a dispute, try to address the commenters as directly as possible (using their usernames) and explain if you choose not to show their posts (ie hateful, derogatory or disrespectful terms). Discourage personal attacks and instead, get conversation focused on the issue being discussed. Debate is a good thing, so allow for diverse opinions as long as they aren't creating conflict.

Don't obsess about solving online conflicts when one person involved is just being confrontational for the sake of it. Some people do thrive off of spurring online aggravation, so separate those comments from ones which are legitimate conflicts between people interested in organizing.

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