conflicts can happen in any community.

But knowing how to resolve conflicts calmly and respectfully can prevent disasters from happening.

This page will give you some tips on how to resolve conflicts.

Sometimes, members have no intention to act nice. In those cases, the best thing to do is to ignore them and do not respond / acknowledge them.

Always report rule violations to staff with the !staff bot command. You can also use the !conflict command if there is a conflict happening in a text channel. Use the conflict command in the same channel the conflict is happening.

Three Ds of Conflict Diffusion

If a conflict cannot be resolved at the moment it is happening, using one or more of the Three Ds of Conflict Diffusion may help settle the conflict down.

  • Distract

    Change the topic to something that is less likely to cause conflict, such as an ice breaker question (eg. "What did everyone do over the weekend?" or "Who saw the latest movie (name)?" etc). Distraction should be used with another conflict resolution method either at the same time or in the near future after the conflict settles. Distraction does not resolve the conflict itself, and will likely resurface if it is not later confronted.

  • Delegate

    Send the conflict / matter over to someone who is more qualified to handle the conflict. A common example is members getting in touch with staff. Another example may be getting someone with a degree in Gender Studies handling a situation of transphobia. Yet another example may be instructing conflicting members to turn to a resource, such as a website or books, to get more information about the topic in question.

  • Direct

    Directly, concisely, and respectfully confront the conflict by using "I" statements. For example, "I am feeling (emotion) because I (insert reason). What I need is (insert what you need here to be at ease)."

Listen First, Resolve Later

If a conflict is very personal to one or more of the involved members, listen to those members and ask non-provocative questions to show your caring, rather than trying to resolve the matter immediately and telling people what to do.

For example, if someone is being transphobic, we might ask questions such as why they feel that way, where they learned what they did, what they know about the transgender community, and so on. We’re not condoning nor condemning anything by doing this, but rather challenging them to think about why they are saying what they did, as well as trying to reach a point of mutual understanding.

Even if we disagree with the other person, showing them that we are making an effort to understand them and listen to them will often calm conflicts down.

Understanding / listening does not mean agreeing. But it does mean caring.

Be Objective, Not Defensive

Getting defensive and closed-minded about a conflicting matter will only add a large fart to the fire, even if we are right and they are wrong. Instead, we should focus on an objective standpoint.

Try to keep emotions separate from facts (not to say don’t share how you feel, but rather don’t use emotions as justification for facts), and attempt to gather the whole story / all the facts before making any judgments. Get clarity where there may be misunderstandings (often, what is posted online can mean more than one thing and can be easily misinterpreted). Avoid debating opinions, as opinions cannot be debated factually.

Know When to Step Away

We all have our limits. Know when you are no longer in a position to be able to handle the conflict effectively, and that your emotions are starting to overwhelm you. Step away from the conflict immediately when your limit has been reached. Delegate to another person if you have to, especially if you’re a staff member.

Continuing to try and resolve a conflict when any of us are in an emotional trance will likely backfire and make the conflict worse, as well as result in us making a fool of ourselves.

Collaborate

Sometimes, collaboration will help end a conflict. This involves finding out what the needs are of the other person/people, such as learning more about a topic, being assured they have nothing to fear about a given situation, and so on. This also involves politely communicating our own needs regarding the situation. Then, once an understanding of everyone’s needs are met, collaborate on how we can all help each other fulfill those needs.