Saturday, 24 June 2017

Interpersonal Conflict Resolution

Conflict happens when two people want different things and can neither come to an agreement not get what they want without the other person. Most of the common conflicts in my life probably involve people I am closely connected to, such as friends, family as well as the people I work with. As such, I would like to share a situation that occurred a few months back regarding a misunderstanding between two group members during a group project.

I was the leader for the engineering group project which consists of three other members. By nature, all of us were very vocal and expressive in our recommended ideas and sometimes, we might get into heated debates during project meet-ups on who’s idea should work the best for sake of our team. During this unfortunate situation, the discussion escalated into a heated conflict between Eileen and Javier.

At that moment, we were gathering in a discussion room and throwing up ideas for a proper design of our locomotive tank system. Javier, as usual, kept giving concepts and thoughts than he usually would during this particular incident. Regarding this topic, my group members and I would be listening and writing down notes he addressed while nodding our heads in agreement on his point. On the other hand, Eileen was acting the complete opposite of us as she felt restless and she kept fidgeting when Javier was speaking. Her gestures indicate that she was not interested in the conversation and instead, kept using her phone and was distracted throughout the discussion.

Unfortunately, I noticed Javier was displeased by Eileen’s action as his body language can be seen with utmost displeasure. He gazed deeply at her with a frown on his face that expresses his unhappiness towards Eileen’s rudeness. His tone started to change towards a deep and aggressive voice every time Eileen was distracted with her phone. Eventually, after being patient for quite some time, Javier started to burst out his emotions and confronted Eileen about her actions and focus regarding the discussion. As a leader, I decided to step up and intervene the situation.

In your opinion, what would you do when facing a similar situation and you hold a high position? Would you confront your team members neutrally or would you side with a person to remedy the situation?   (390 words)


  1. Hi Alfin,

    I think everyone will feel displeased when someone is doing something else when you are talking too.

    Understanding the situation you have there, Eileen did not understand the signals Javier is sending through his tone or she might not even be paying attention to him at all, hence, sparking into an confrontation.

    Firstly, after intervening with the situation, I would calm Javier down first before going to discuss about what is wrong with Eileen.
    As Eileen may have something serious going on in her life, we should not judge beforehand that she is terribly wrong for her not paying attention to Javier.

    I agree to a certain point that she is wrong for not paying attention in group meetings, but what if something major had came into her life and she needs to text someone about it?

    If Eileen is just disinterest about the group meeting, then she must be talked to and ask what is wrong about it. Worst come to worst, you may have to lay down the choice of expelling her from the group.


    1. Hi Alvin

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blogspot. Yes, I do agree that as a leader, I need to hear both sides of the story first before making a decision so that I would not cause further misunderstanding.

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  3. Thanks, Alfin, for this detailed reflection on an interpersonal project scenario. Through your narration you provide a fairly clear picture of the dispute and the characters involved. What might reduce understanding to some degree is your language use. Please see the following:

    1) verb tense issues (your narration is usually from a past perspective, but not in the following instances):
    -- Her gestures indicate ... >>>
    -- we might get... >>>
    -- which consists ... >>>
    -- his body language can be seen ... >>>
    -- that expresses ... >>>
    -- and you hold... >>>

    2) phrasing issues:
    -- and can neither come to an agreement
    -- burst out his emotions
    -- throwing up ideas

    These are all issues that can be corrected. I appreciate your effort and look forward to reading your peers' feedback.

    1. Hi Brad,

      I appreciate the feedback you posted in order to improve my language used. I will make the necessary changes accordingly and I thank you for making the time to read my blog post.

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  5. Hi Alfin!

    Thanks for sharing your problem! Do not worry, I have faced such problems myself. I understand how you feel, especially when the topic that you are discussing about is very crucial to the progress of the project. Also, it was very distracting for the other members for the project.

    If it were me, I would interrupt Javier for a moment to get back the attention of Eileen before such things could happen. However, since Javier has spoken up about his displeasure, I would have cut him off and asked him to calm down. I would not pick on Eileen, but talk to the whole project group about how important the project is, and it is everyone's responsibility to be involved and be an active listener. Additionally, I would talk to Javier and Eileen separately outside of the project meeting.

    For Eileen, she seemed to be restless and showed disinterest. On this point, I will first ask her why she was behaving that way. Was it because she did not know the requirements of the project? Or, she was rushing off to somewhere? Subsequently, I will be understanding and see what I could do to help her whatever the reason may be.

    As for Javier, I would advise him to tell me about his unhappiness and not pour it out onto Eileen. For example, instead of raising his voice when he was annoyed, he could have signalled to me that he finds Eileen's actions distracting and disrespectful. From there, I would be able to take control of the situation and not allow such conflict to happen again.

    Hopefully with these suggestions to Eileen and Javier, they would be able to be accommodate to each other's behaviour and make the project group be a happy environment to work in.

    - Lim Sing Yiing

    1. Hi Sing Yiing,

      I appreciate your helpful comments on the few ways to resolve this conflict. Regarding Eileen's situation, I believe that she is more keen to rushing off to somewhere and her actions did imply that she wants the project meeting to be fast and quick. Yes, I will take note of your comments and put it into consideration

  6. Hi Alfin,

    I understand the situation you are in. I think everyone has went through the problem you have faced whether it is in project group work or even just a conversation between two friends.

    What I could suggest, is understanding what is the main problem. To me, it is still unclear why Eileen was not interested in the conversation. Maybe you could clear things up by asking her why isn't she not focusing. Furthermore, I would agree with your action n stepping in before the situation gets any worse.

    1. Hi Azziz,

      I do agree upon asking Eileen about her actions during the project nicely will loosen the tension during the meeting instead of Javier's sudden outburst.

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