How to Diffuse the Situation

images-8Great teams are full of leaders with equally strong talents, personalities and the opinions to go with them. While this creates a high potential for productivity, no one should be surprised when conflict arises and personalities collide.

Here are 5 Ways to Diffuse the Situation…

1) Don’t! The escalation may be an indicator of a relational or organizational disconnect or disagreement or it may just be that creative minds are hard at work. Abruptly ending the argument or placating someone will only provide a false and temporary peace that may keep things from going forward through the push and pull of high-capacity leaders. Remember that a steam engine only moves forward under well-controlled pressure.

2) Take charge… but just long enough to assure those involved that they will be heard, in turn and with respect. Be clear. Disagreement is tolerated and even welcomed in your organizational culture. Disrespect is not.

3) Keep digging. Ask questions that force the real issues behind the emotion. This will not only address the issues at hand, but will serve notice that unnecessary drama is out of place and simply “not what we do here.”

Jesus was the master at the art of inquiry, often answering questions with questions. Two of his disciples were arguing over who might sit by Jesus’ on His throne in Heaven. Rather than answering directly, Jesus asked them about their ability to lead well in the here and now. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38, NIV) In other words, with leadership may come certain privileges, but with great responsibility to God and others.

4) Assign responsibility but don’t create new policy. Refuse any tendency to add policy based on isolated arguments. This only punishes the greater team and encourages wasted lateral energy. Be specific with the individuals involved as you assign the actions you believe are necessary to restore team health and harmony.

5) Follow-up. Team unity is too essential to be assumed. Check-in with the people involved individually and as a group. Again, this will help cultivate a healthy culture where people are free to disagree but where respect for one another stays at a high level.

How do you deal effectively with rising tensions on your team? Share your thoughts in the Reply section below.

I would love to come to equip and encourage you and your team! Email me at to see how we can partner for a leadership conference, retreat or coaching relationship.

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