Is Your Office a Reality Show?

Last week I discussed why there is no such thing as ‘impersonal’ conflict resolution. 

This week I received the below conflict resolution query:

“What are some examples of when conflict resolution is better done one-on-one rather than in a group situation?”

An interesting question, yes?

After sitting with it for a bit, I came up with one, infallible circumstance in which conflict resolution is best done in a group setting:

If you are on a reality show.


Because one of the reasons you (and I!) enjoy reality shows is because conflict resolution is happening in groups, in real time. The horror of watching someone be publicly called out/exposed/shamed is what keeps us hooked.

Could there be others?

After ruminating, I guess it could be OK to speak to junior members of a team, as a group, if you notice across-the-board infractions of a stated policy. (Punctuality, dress codes, and poor customer service come to mind…)

Getting everyone together to remind them of a stated expectation – and asking for feedback as to why there are so many infractions—has the potential to be productive IF you set the stage by starting with,

“I’m bringing this up in a group setting because I’ve noticed it’s a group transgression. To me, this says the policy isn’t effective. Am I on the right track? Do you have input?”

Then, listen, listen, listen.

Now this is not to say all of the input you receive can, will, or should be implemented.

But giving people the opportunity to voice their grievances and work toward a solution makes it far more likely you will end up with just a few (solo!) encounters where the conflict resolution has to continue.