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Calming the Storms Using the 3 Rs of Conflict Management

By December 5, 2021May 4th, 2023All, Delivery3 min read


Published on December 5, 2021 | Reading Time: 3 mins

Conflict is inevitable – it can arise at any time and in any place. What’s important is to have a personal toolbox of techniques to deal with these situations when they arise.

Conflict can be any friction, disagreement or discord arising between or within an individual, multiple individuals, within a group or between different teams within an organization. It can arise in any interpersonal situation, whether it is at the frontline of service delivery or between colleagues during the design or development processes of the service. When people work in a team, conflict is a likely outcome, but the mismanagement and misdiagnosis of it may lead to negative energy, lack of communication, and ultimately, missed opportunities. It is therefore important to learn to manage conflict soundly, using the 3 Rs principle: responsibility, relationship and real problem.


Typical of those with an “avoiding” management style, rather than confronting the person one disagrees with, and communicating to them directly, it is common to resort to telling others about the person, rather than talking to the person. Although taking initiative in addressing the conflict is important, it is necessary to ensure it is brought up in a non-threatening way by taking ownership, being cooperative, respectful, creative, and thus, responsible. One must take responsibility and be a part of the solution, not the problem.


Typical of those with a “competing” management style, some may prefer to win the conflict rather than preserving the relationship. It is possible to be right without stating that the other person is wrong, which prevents personal judgements, and shows respect to the other party. It is crucial to maintain close relationships because the job will only get done in the most successful way through cooperation and trust.

Real Problem

Typical of those with an “accommodating”, “competing” or “avoiding” management styles, some may shift their attention to a secondary conflict that has nothing to do with the real problem. This is done in hopes of diminishing the real issue, coming out victorious, or getting away from the issue, respectively. Sometimes this may appear by attacking someone personally or concentrating on a symptom rather than the underlying cause of a problem. To identify the real problem of a conflict, one must ask themselves the following:

  1. Am I willing to bring up a sensitive or difficult issue?
  2. Have I planned how to state this issue objectively, while avoiding personal attack
  3. Have I moved from thinking about a symptom to concentrating on the cause?

Following these 3 Rs will help in guiding more effective collaboration and cooperation between anybody, supporting positive outcomes for all.


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