Why Avoiding Virtual Conflict Resolution is a Bad Idea

You’ve been avoiding a colleague for weeks. Dodging calls, texts and invites. Fortunately, working remotely means you don’t bump into each other in the office. What occurred in your recent conversation was more than a disagreement. At the time you were angry at what had been said, it was hurtful and wrong. Despite your colleague’s best efforts, you have been avoiding any semblance of a resolution. And because it’s all online now, at the first sign of this person, you can turn your camera off and recede into the ether, uncomfortable and evasive.

It can be easy to avoid conflict online. Technology allows us to hide our faces and become almost invisible if we choose. We can exit a meeting without leaving our seats, we can also tune in and mentally check out. It’s easy to avoid virtually resolving conflict. This does however come at a cost.

  • Conflict if left unresolved tends to fester as time goes on. Particularly if the conflict is personal. It can do irreparable damage to a relationship and impact individual and team productivity. In essence, conflict costs time, money, energy and effort. And our sense of personal wellbeing.
  • It’s not uncommon to have individuals and teams bury their heads in the sand when it comes to conflict. Perhaps we think that if enough time passes, the things said and done will just go away. Conflict is usually laden with emotion and feeling that unfortunately can’t be wished away with the passing of time. Human beings tend to hold onto emotion, and therefore the problem needs to be resolved.
  • Resolving conflict virtually may need to be a learned behaviour. We may prefer to wait to discuss tough issues until everyone is in person. These days, that may not be an option, for an unknown amount of time. So, don’t shy away from controversial topics in seeking to resolve conflicts virtually.

Many people avoid resolving conflict virtually because they feel unequipped to have difficult conversations, let alone on a screen. Having a robust framework and process to follow will ease these concerns and enable you to navigate difficult conversations more easily. To learn more about how CMA can assist you build skills in conflict resolution, including via technology, visit Getting Past Conflict.

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