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Conflict Resolution

Conflict arises when two or more people have seemingly incompatible values, motivations, perceptions, opinions, ideas or interests. It is a normal and inevitable part of group development and requires a community commitment to addressing issues early on before it escalates and affects the well-being of the community. Conflict is a broad term and encompasses; discomfort around someone, disagreements, misunderstandings, incidents, tension and crisis.

Aim of this Policy

  • To handle conflict in a principled and intentional manner, aimed at increasing awareness, connection, empathy, understanding and mutuality.

  • To encourage members to address conflict early on, in an open and transparent manner. Instead of talking about conflict outside of group meetings, these issues need to be discussed inside the group when we are all together so we can work collectively to find solutions.

  • To highlight that conflict is often more than an interpersonal issue between 2 members. Conflict often has its roots in organizational weaknesses, such as a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities, decision-making processes, ineffective steering meetings, weak governance, structure and processes, power dynamics, hidden agendas, lack of transparency, accountability etc

  • To increase understanding of the negative impacts of comments, attitudes and behaviours that interfere with or do not adhere to the Haven’s aim, mission and values, code of conduct and Safeguarding Policy. These need to be called out and addressed.

  • To encourage members to co-create a psychologically safe community culture in which members feel supported to raise issues and concerns

  • To adopt processes which support the community to co-manage challenging behaviours by looking for solutions which are inclusive and grounded in a shared commitment to doing what is best for The Haven.

  • When addressing conflicting issues, it is important to be specific, talking about actions not opinions, facts not accusations, examples not generalisations

  • To recognise the strength in difference, diversity and multiple perspectives.

  • Do listen, respect, make assumptions explicit, acknowledge mistakes, empathise, remember that multiple views can be right, focus on consequences not personalities and take responsibility

  • DO NOT justify, explain, argue, avoid discomfort, ask leading questions, affix blame, be sarcastic, dismiss, discount, deny or define anyone else’s experience


Conflict Resolution Processes

Techniques of Principled Negotiation are based on four steps:

1. Separate people/personalities from the problem

2. Focus on interests rather than reinforce positions.

3. Actively seek solutions by using agreed upon processes. The aim is to seek resolution for mutual gain rather than attempting to ‘win’.

4. Frame the issue against objective criteria by referring to our collective responsibility to adhere to our code of conduct, primary purpose, mission, values and Safeguarding principles.


Members may raise an issue

  • With the person directly

  • With a trusted community member

  • In steering meetings/ feeling circles

  • Request external mediation

Personal Approach

  • This approach is most useful for addressing a personal disagreement or misunderstanding soon after the issue initially arises.

  • Where practicably possible, this route should be the favoured pathway for resolving any difficulty.

  • Only if the member feels safe to address their concerns without involving other parties, should they approach the other person and ask for a meeting to express their concerns with a view to resolving their differences.

  • This pathway is not appropriate when there are concerns about significant power imbalances; and/or issues relating to perceived bullying, intimidation and aggression; and/or patterns of a person gaslighting and denying the experience of the other. In such circumstances, the matter should be raised with the community. Please see below.

  • The person initiating the personal approach may wish to seek counsel from a trusted and unbiased member of the community before meeting the other party.


Talking with someone you are in conflict with;

  1. Preparation Start by getting clear in your own mind what you want to say. What do you think the problem is? Is it a difference of opinion or priorities, a behaviour pattern or an individual incident which has upset you? Simply state the facts without opinions, assumptions, criticisms, judging, blame or other behaviours that create defensiveness. Which aspects of the Haven code of conduct, mission, aim and values does this issue undermine or threaten?.

  2. Write an ‘I’ statement for yourself to help you be clear on the specifics of your frustrations, and to clarify your own feelings and needs in this situation. What was your response to this behaviour? It might be an emotion, an action or something you wanted to do. An ‘I’ statement keeps the focus on your feelings and experience which is more likely to promote effective communication and connection. Writing this down can help to hold focus during the session.

  3. Use the suggested steps below to help you process your feelings and the impact of your differences. Resist blame or judgement. Try not to make it about personality or personal. Keep it about yourself and The Haven.

  4. Get ready to actively listen. If the conversation is just about you offloading your ‘I’ statement, the other person might feel frustrated, unheard or manipulated. Try to actively listen to the other persons feelings, experiences and needs.

  5. Only respond with ‘I’ statements

How to engage in conflict resolution

Create a safe atmosphere for both you and the other person

  • Find a suitable safe space- Haven sanctuary or a neutral space

  • A good time (i.e not when we’re tired, hungry, stressed, in a rush)

  • Minimize distractions (turn off phones)

  • Set the boundaries, designate a time limit for talking such as, 5 minutes each.



  • 2 minute check-in to set the emotional context so you know what each person is bringing to the space, and have time to practice active listening


Take it in turns to explain your ‘I’ statement for the pre-agreed allocated time

1. State the particular common mission and values which are affected by the current circumstances (what is at stake).

2. When... (observable behavior/event) happened,

3. I felt... (emotion only e.g. sad, angry)

4. Because I think the consequence is/ has been... (your evaluation of the impact on your shared mission and/or how the event is contrary to your shared values etc. It is good to describe what in your experience has caused you to draw this conclusion.)

5. I know that I also contributed to the situation by ... (Acknowledge how you personally contributed to the problem by what you did or neglected to do.)

6. I value... (The positive side of the situation and/or how the person(s) makes positive contribution(s).)

7. I would like... (what action or alternative policy you would like.) Because I believe this would serve our mission by...

8. I will (what you are willing to do to contribute to resolution) so that (anticipated improvement that this will make in the situation.)


Raising an issue with a trusted member

If you do not feel able to speak directly with the person you are conflicted with you can seek out a trusted member of the community to support you. This is not gossip and should not be treated as such. A trusted member must:

  • Maintain confidentiality at all times.

  • Listen and support the person to ascertain what happened

  • Do not collude. Keep your own judgement/feelings/experiences out of the conversation and be as neutral and impartial as possible.

  • Support the person to write an ‘I’ statement in line with the process described above

  • If the person now feels able, they can approach the other person and ask for a meeting.


Bringing the issue to the community

  • It is important to create the time and space for members to share feelings and experiences that may be troubling, dissatisfying or causing tension and unease.

  • Remember the principles and intentional approach outlined above

  • A commitment to finding solutions is essential. Be explicit about the potential effects on your common mission and/or values etc

  • Members can ask to schedule an emergency meeting,

  • The Haven could hold monthly conflict meetings

  • Members can bring issues to the steering meeting.


Group process

  • These meetings need to be facilitated.

  • This process uses ‘structured rounds’ where everyone in the group is given a set amount of time to comment on the issue in question using ‘I’ statements only. No one can interrupt or comment on what that person has said while they are speaking. The group practices active listening.

  • Speaker then presents the issue

  • The facilitator or a volunteer reflect back what they have heard to ensure the issue is understood

  • During the first round, the facilitator encourages people to state their feelings and experiences of the issue.

  • During the second, and possibly third or fourth round, the facilitator encourages people to identify solutions to the issue. Both the issues and suggested solutions are written up ideally where all can see.

  • Once the alternatives have been listed, have a round where people state their solution preferences.

  • Final round is to make an agreement

  • It’s useful to start each round with a different person. If people don’t want to speak, they can ‘pass.’

Raising an issue in the steering meeting

  • Add item to the agenda beforehand

  • Ask speaker to process their issue using the ‘I’ statement method

  • Both the issues and suggested solutions are minuted

In extreme circumstances it maybe best to invite in an external facilitator to mediate or for the 2 people involved to receive mediation outside of the project.

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