Conflict doesn’t have to be destructive. Most people who exercise know that resistance strengthens muscles even though adding resistance can be challenging or even painful. Conflict in your HOA Board meetings is like adding resistance. Handled correctly, conflict can strengthen Board relationships and result in better decisions.
Conflict surfaces anywhere you have two or more people working together. That’s because each person brings different experiences, opinions and methods of approach for almost any topic that arises. By respectfully listening and discussing different opinions, team members can use healthy conflict to work through ideas and create better solutions.
What are the differences between constructive and destructive conflict? Here are four tips for effective conflict resolution.
1. Attack the problem instead of the person
Avoid critical personal comments. Conflict is not about the person who holds a different opinion than you. Discuss the problem. Keep an open mind as you think as each person shares their thoughts on how to resolve the problem. Some of the best resolutions often arise from combining different parts of multiple approaches.
2. Make your voice heard instead of letting little resentments build
Because many people avoid conflict, they keep quiet instead of sharing their ideas. This behavior often results in growing resentment over time, which can be destructive for the Board and the entire community. Speak up in meetings and discuss differing opinions respectfully. This is how you build relationships and a stronger Condo or Homeowners Association Board.
3. Expand your focus beyond your world; include the entire community
It’s easy for each of us to look at how an issue affects our world. Constructive conflict can help us consider how the issue affects others. Consciously make the effort to expand your “world” by listening to other viewpoints with an open mind. Don’t be surprised if you find your attitude shifting as you see the problem through the eyes of others.
4. Look for solutions instead of scoring a win
If you only look at decisions as winning or losing, you weaken individual relationships and your Board. Embrace constructive conflict as a method to reach long-lasting solutions. Respectfully disagreeing and offering an explanation on your stance helps Board members commit their energies toward creating a solution.
Constructive conflicts strengthen relationships and your HOA Board when you look at finding the best solution for the community. Think harmony….where everyone sings different notes (not the same note), and the result is a beautiful blended sound. Welcoming constructive conflict in your Board meetings can result in blending ideas for the best solutions.