Team building and conflict resolution

Knowing how to effectively solve conflicts can certainly help in avoiding destructive forms of conflict escalation such as war; and developing conflict resolution skills and strategies not only holds the potential to transform organizations but also has a profound impact on our personal lives, offering a path to harmony, understanding, and sustainable coexistence.

Competences addressed/ learning outcomes expand_more

After completing this Learning resource participants will be able to:  
— Gain knowledge about the concept of conflict and its management.
— Explore techniques for developing a more effective conflict resolution strategy.
—  Implement more agile means and ways of communication within personal and professional environments.
— Understand the repercussions of disregarding or avoiding conflict resolution. 
— Discover the importance and benefits  of implementing team-building activities within an organization.  
Explore techniques for developing effective team-building activities


The objectives of this learning resource can be summarised as below:
— To discover the tools and mindset needed for efficient conflict resolutions.
— To understand the value of addressing conflicts in an effective manner, leading to the improvement of your personal and professional relationships.
— To recognize the importance of effective Team-Building exercises for the development and efficiency of both employees and organizations. 
— To encourage the implementation of effective Team-Building Activities within organizations.  

Theoretical background expand_more

The human being is inherently social, with each of us navigating a web of relationships with others and the world around us. An undeniable truth is that we are all unique, bringing our distinct perspectives and opinions into our interactions, which sometimes result in disagreements and conflicts. However, what truly matters is our ability to equip ourselves with the right tools and mindset when these inevitable conflicts arise.  

Knowing how to effectively solve conflicts can certainly help in avoiding destructive forms of conflict escalation such as war; and developing conflict resolution skills and strategies not only holds the potential to transform organizations but also has a profound impact on our personal lives, offering a path to harmony, understanding, and sustainable coexistence.

On the other hand, Team Building has remained a crucial and enduring concept within organizations over the years, since effective team building activities play an important role in the development of organizations by fostering stronger interpersonal relationships among employees, enhancing team effectiveness, facilitating mutual understanding among team members and promoting cooperation. These activities are also crucial in reducing employee stress levels, mitigating negative working environments and ultimately contributing to improve organizational performance (harmonious employees who work collaboratively within a team context tend to perform at a higher level). 

In any thriving organization, recognizing the importance of both effective conflict resolution and team building activities is essential. As we previously mentioned, effective conflict resolution contributes to a harmonious work environment where issues are addressed constructively, ensuring that disagreements do not escalate. Simultaneously, team building activities are essential for strengthening interpersonal bonds among colleagues, enhancing communication, and promoting collaboration. When these two elements are thoughtfully integrated into the organizational culture, they synergize to create a workplace where conflicts are handled with understanding, teamwork thrives, and overall productivity and employee satisfaction flourish.

Conflict resolution Part I
Definition of conflict
An extended struggle: fight, battle. A clashing or sharp disagreement (as between ideas, interests, or purposes). Mental struggle resulting from needs, drives, wishes, or demands that are in opposition or are not compatible

Stages of a conflict escalation
1.  Disagreement: a situation in which 2 or more parties are having different opinions over the situation they are discussing about.
2. Fight: a situation in which 2 or more individuals are arguing strongly verbally, or even become physically aggressive with each other.
3. Trial:  a higher court is called into the conflict to analyze the situation and apply the law of the community, state, region, or continent. 
4.  War: a high-level conflict, that happens between states and the court couldn’t solve it, or even the court was not even involved and from the stage of fight jumped directly to using guns and other types of weapons.

Eric Braham’s theory on conflict stages in terms of time and intensity:

Conflict categories:
A.  Misunderstanding: the solution is to provide accurate information.
B.  Disagreement: the solution is to friendly debate and lead to a resolution or on agreeing to disagree and move on.
C.  Agree on a common goal but disagree on how to get there: the solution is to find a compromise and combine the different strategies.
D.  Having different goals: the solution is to find a win-win situation through collaboration.res

Most important principles in having the communication continued in a conflictual situation: mutual purpose and mutual respect.
What happens if we ignore or avoid conflict?
Forms of unsolved conflicts and unhealthy developments: 
● Gossips
● Groupism
● Favoritism 

Conflict Resolution Part II
Definition of Mediation: a "party-centered" process in that it is focused primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties. The mediator uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction and to help the parties find their optimal solution. Meditation serves as a safe setting where the dialogue can take place. 
Types of mediation:
● Transformative
● Facilitative
● Evaluative
Here are two links to  find more examples about types of meditation: 

A key skill in mediation and conflict resolution is the negotiation skill
Definition of Negotiation:  a dialogue between two or more people or parties to reach the desired outcome regarding one or more issues of conflict.
Types of negotiation principles and  strategies:
 4 basic principles:
1.  Separate the person from the issue.
2. Negotiate interest oriented.
3. Develop good criteria that a good solution must fulfill.
4. Develop several options.

5 Negotiation strategies based on its aims:
1. Win – win
2. Win – lose.
3. Compromise
4. Lose – win.
5. Lose - lose.

Here is  a link to know more about the principles of negotiation:
The fundamental and the main requirement in conflict resolution is efficient communication. Here is a graphic of the communication process:

Efficient communication tools:
● Social distance
● Emotional
● Language

Ways to eliminate communication barriers: 
● Understand your multigenerational workforce
● Make communication more agile
● Create and share engaging and personalized content
● Switch to mobile-first communication
● Use the power of data and technology

The right kinds of team-building exercises can bring people closer together, help teams work more effectively, and identify gaps and strengths in individual members.
● Allows people to get to know each other: their interests, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they communicate, among other things.
● Build camaraderie and trust: one of the most important aspects of a successful team.
● Help remind people that work is never just about them: it is about the entire group.

Step-by-step implementation expand_more

Conflict resolution 
1. Talk about the importance of conflict resolution within a social context:
Encouraging learners to take care of their emotional side and acquiring the skills to handle conflicts efficiently for more positive interactions with one another.  
2. Learn about the concept of conflict and its management:
Analyzing the time, intensity and stages of conflicts by using Eric Braham’s theory on conflict’s stages, as well as explaining the categories of conflicts in order to better identify the causes of them. For more examples, please watch the videos below: 

According to Thomas Kilmann, co-creator of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), collaboration is the most complex approach to solving conflicts. However, the solutions that come from it are more sustainable and relevant, as the entire team is involved and engaged with it.  Design thinking not only needs people and a team to solve problems, but creates  a lot of empathy (human-centered design) to understand how these conflicts affect people (Rubio, 2016).
3. Co-creation workshop as design thinking tool: collaborative meeting where the participants discuss the results of the break out rooms and the  repercussions of disregarding or avoiding conflict.
Exercise: Break out rooms with different conflict scenarios based on the 4 causes, finding the best resolution, and applying the principle of mutual respect and purpose.
Scenario 1: You are in a collective situation/ retreat. You are sitting in the dining room with people from different countries. The person in front of you is telling you something in her language and points her finger towards you. In your culture this is offensive, and you become angry with the person, and you start to tell her to stop pointing at you. The fight starts. 
What is the cause of this conflict and what is the best resolution? 
Scenario 2: There is only one orange left. Both you and your roommate want to have it. You start to have a fight because of it. 
What is the cause of this conflict and how can it be solved?
Scenario 3: You and your partner agree that you need to plant your healthy vegetables. One of you believes in the principles of permaculture and the other one in the principles of monoculture. You start to fight over the land who should plant and in which way. 
What is the cause of this conflict and what is the best resolution?
Scenario 4: You and your colleague are discussing about a third colleague, gossiping. You think that your colleague is lying because she came late at work saying she had an emergency at home. The water pipes broke, and she had to call in a technician to take care of it, but you know all the technicians in the area and none of them were called. Your colleague is telling you that she doesn’t think that the person that came late is lying, and you start to have a fight about it.
What is the cause of this conflict and how can they relate to a mutual purpose?

1.  Here are some  Team Building Lessons from Design Thinking to put into practice with your team: 
Start with Empathy: by understanding your team members and listening to what is actually going on with your team, you can better address the problems that your team is having.
It takes a team:  you cannot really create (or implement that creation) on your own–you need a team there to support you.
Reframe problems to ask interesting questions: reframing problems as questions, and making sure to ask interesting questions to get the team to think, can help ease a lot of tension, and create a better atmosphere for collaboration and innovation.
Challenge assumptions: letting go of previously held assumptions about “what works” and seeking out a different perspective.
More ideas are always better: getting as many ideas from your team is important. Brainstorm, collaborate, work together and share your opinions and thoughts.
Imagine your ideas and create prototypes:  generate ideas but also find ways to test and implement those ideas by prototyping. 
Learn through experience: experiment is  the way that you improve ideas and even generate new ones. 
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes: create environments where team members trust each other and aren’t afraid to make mistakes.

2. Discuss the importance of implementing team-build activities at work. Encourage organizations and companies to implement effective team-building activities for the mutual benefit of their employees and their organizations. 
3. Provide a list of team-building activities to do with the employees: The following activities are intended for longer meetings or for employees who want to spend an afternoon or a few hours away from their desk.
Team-Building Activities to Do During the Workday:
●  Share Your Personality.
●  Play Team or Board Games.
●  Create a Scavenger Hunt
●  Untangle a “Human Knot”
●  Give Out Blind Directions
●  Do a Silent Line-Up
●  Host a Lunch and Learn
●  Have a Hack Day
●  Put on a Contest

Time needed and group sizeexpand_more

TIME: 3 hours 
GROUP SIZE: 15 people

Materials needed for implementationexpand_more

Computer to show links and videos.

Further resources: Videos and/or useful linksexpand_more

Conflict resolution:
What are the types of conflict?
What types of meditations are there? 
The three times of meditation styles 
The Harvard Principles of Negotiation 
Agility in Communications with Sophie Maddison 

Team Building Activities
14 Free Personality Tests That’ll Help You Figure Yourself out 
The Secret to Being a Better Boss: Create a “How to Work With Me” Manual
Prefer Games to Happy Hour? They Can Help You Forge Connections and Even Find a Job
Celebrity game
The Event You Should Plan for Your Team—ASAP


Invite Japan (2022).Team Building Lessons from Design Thinking: 8 Helpful Ideas to Level-Up Your Team.  (Accessed 2023-09-20). 
Kalish, A. (2022). 22 Team-Building Activities Your Coworkers Won’t Hate (We Promise). The Muse.  Available at 
Martic, K. (2023). Top 13 Communication Barriers and How to Tackle Them. Haiilo. [Blog]. 18 January. Available at: 
Patterson, K; Grenny, P; McMillan, R; Switzler, A; & Gregory, E. (2021). Crucial Conversations:Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Third Edition. McGraw Hill publications. 
Rubio, E. (2016). Solving Team's Conflicts with Design Thinking. Linkedin.  (Accessed 2023-09-12).
Wikipedia contributors (n.d). Negotiations. Available at:
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