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Conversation dominators and conflict resolution - Inclusee

Conversation dominators and conflict resolution

Conversation Dominators

You may find yourself with someone who is completely dominating the conversation, talking over the top of other people or continually answering a question, even when they haven’t been called on so how can you deal with that?

Sometimes, people just want to be heard. So be sure to follow the group rules that you set out at the start of the discussion and don’t interrupt them, let them have their say and try one of the following methods to assist you in keeping the conversation open:

The pre-emptive strike

A Conversation Dominator often is unaware of their crime. But as the facilitator, you are aware, and it actually gives you an advantage. One of the best ways to overcome a Conversation Dominator is to strategically engage them with a specific question that you also know will be an asset to the whole group conversation. That person gets to talk, but only because you called upon them and only about the subject you broached. The result can be a shorter, more helpful engagement that you control from beginning to end.

The redirect

One of the more effective ways to bring a Conversation Dominator respectfully and subtly to a more a manageable place, is look for a place within their narrative to interject a clarifying question or remark. This forces them to pause and reflect and change course in their conversation, giving you an opportunity to end their contribution as soon as they answer your inquiry. This often takes the form of redirecting the Conversation Dominator back towards the point you were trying to make anyway, so the redirect is kind of a win for the whole group.

The Tag-a-long

Though some Conversation Dominators will (frequently) seek your approval to talk, others just jump right in and kind of blindside you with a story or illustration that jolts you off course. One of the more effective ways to get back on track is to quickly interject or find a place in their narrative where you can say, “That’s an interesting experience. I’m wondering if anyone else in the group has had a similar or contrary experience.” By tagging another member of the group to contribute to the Conversation Dominator’s story, you simultaneously validate their contribution, end their domination and engage somebody else within the group.

Still stuck?

If you find yourself in a situation like this and these steps haven’t helped you, please reach out to your ESO for further guidance or advice.

Conflict Resolution

While we don’t expect that the conversations you’ll be facilitating could lead to a confrontation or disagreement, we want you to be prepared in case it does happen.

Someone might slip up on a ground rule or go off on a tangent. A participant might speak in a way that feels presumptuous or disrespectful or dismissive to others. The conversation might unfold in such a way that one participant feels attacked by another, even if that wasn’t the speaker’s intention. What can you do to get the conversation back on track?

Slow things down

When we perceive a threat, it takes just one fifth of a second for the thinking part of our brain to shut down. As a result, we lose access to our inner resources or conflict resolution skills

We can counteract that by slowing things down, taking a deep breath or taking a time out or pause if you need to

If it’s a particularly heated discussion, then suggesting 2-5 minutes for the group to individually reflect can help participants (and you!) process what you’re thinking and feeling in bit more of a constructive way.

Manage the Dilemma

You don’t need to have all the answers and you don’t need to solve the group’s problems on your own in the moment. Just be transparent about it!

When the conversation gets stuck or heats up, simply naming what you observe can help the group look at it from a more detached or objective perspective. Participants can also play an important role in how to move forward.

You might say “I’m feeling a little stuck right now. I’m noticing there’s a lot of emotion or tension in the room, and I’m wondering if anyone else is feeling it as well? ”

Stay focused

A gentle reminder of the discussion goals can help people find their way back into the space of dialogue.

Ask Questions

When things get hot, pause the conversation and invite the group to answer some reflective questions that can prepare them to re-enter a conversation again.  Some examples include:

  • How have you been impacted by this confrontation or conflict?
  • Is there anything you wish to share about your thoughts or feelings on this issue?
  • What do you need in order to re-engage? Have a think about that.

Be Compassionate (both to other people and yourself)

Don’t assume that you know the person’s intention, even if you know the impact of their words.

Be kind and ensure that everyone has the chance to voice their feelings, even if you don’t agree with them or understand them– it’s about sharing together and bringing connection to our participants’ lives!

Still Stuck?

We hope that this has helped you to feel more confident should the conversation go off the rails and if something like this does occur, please let your ESO know about it, especially if you’re concerned about a particular participant or their ongoing participation in the club moving forward. This also goes for you, if you’re feeling stressed, if you’re feeling like you’re not sure how to resolve something – talk to your ESO, we’re always happy to help.