In a small liberal arts college, there are many opportunities for working together on projects, whether it is for class work or extracurricular activities. Working as part of a team is a great way to ensure that the work being done is not only as strong as it can be, but takes into account multiple voices. Whether it’s a team project, a short film, a presentation or even something like starting a group, incorporating multiple ideas and voices is a great way to strengthen the idea, while ensuring a beautifully eclectic and multifaceted perspective. The challenge, however, arises when those multiple voices become screaming or shouting voices, and things don’t necessarily run so smoothly.
It’s no secret that no two people are alike. We find ourselves in situations all the time where we realize our opinions differ from others, but it’s how we address it that’s the important thing. Especially if you’re studying at liberal arts colleges in Chicago, you’re going to be surrounded by a lot of people with very strong and unique opinions about things, so it's natural you'll occasionally find yourself disagreeing with the ideas or actions of your colleagues.
Conflict arises in teamwork scenarios more than we’d like to think it does, even while pursuing a liberal arts degree. When there are multiple ideas, voices and perspectives all clamoring for attention, things can get a bit messy. So how do you accommodate such a disparate collection of ideas and attitudes? Conflict management techniques aren’t just a great and effective way to diffuse tense situations, but can also teach us a lot about how to effectively manage teamwork and ensure a great collaboration that doesn’t result in a yelling match.
Conflict Resolution With the Four Cs
A great way to help reach a sound consensus and deal with differing opinions in a manner that’s as non-confrontational as possible, you might consider following the “four Cs” approach, as suggested by scholars at Harvard University. The four Cs are: connect, clarify, confirm and contract.
- Connect means establishing an understanding or rapport with the other members of your team, addressing things openly and in a friendly manner
- Clarify means you should actively listen to what the people in your team are saying, without judgement, and either find a way to incorporate their ideas or pose effective alternative solutions
- Confirm is about trying to reach a mutual agreement in the group that means both the overall goal and individual needs or ideas of members are addressed and included
- Contract is about the agreement of the individuals in the team about how the project or effort has come together, and the acknowledgment of individual roles and contributions.
Getting on the same page from the beginning means that conflicts are much less likely to arise during the collaborative process. The secret to mediating conflict, when it really comes down to it, is to step outside of your little world once in a while, and to realize that it’s a vast and varied world out there, and not everyone shares your opinion. If you keep an open mind, it’s amazing how much easier collaboration will come to you.