Facilitate conflict

A conflict describes a situation where beliefs, needs, or facts are very different and cannot easily exist together or both be true. In some cases this might lead to an active argument or a fight. It might also happen that the opposing opinions are not actively voiced but instead they are swept under the carpet. Facilitation describes the activity of a person who is actively moderating the conflict and helping the participants to get to know their own as well as the other position.


Conflicts are a very natural thing. People often disagree with each other and have opposing opinions on certain topics. A high level of diversity of thought naturally leads to an increased potential for conflict within a team. Often, these conflicts are neglected and their potential for transformation is misunderstood. By exploring the opposing positions and the polarities behind them, mutual understanding for each side can be achieved. This enables the group to create joint action again, instead of using all their energy to either directly or indirectly fight each other.


Depending on the size of the team, an appropriate conflict facilitation approach can be designed. I am using a combination of Deep Democracy and Emergent Essence Dynamics. A typical format in a team is a so-called “Open Forum” where a conflictual topic is identified by the group and then explored with the guidance of a facilitation team. By exploring the underlying needs and emotions behind the logical argument, people are able to understand the other side. Based on these “role switches”, mutual understanding becomes possible and a new sense of community is built.

I understand that this approach is a bit hard to explain. I am planning to start a conflict work meetup in Munich beginning in February 2020. Perhaps it is easier if you stop by to learn more and simply to experience what it is about.

During a team offsite, I have facilitated an open forum together with one of my colleagues. In a timeframe of about 2 hours, the newly founded team explored one of the strategic questions within the company. With the help of the open forum we were able to create a safe space that let people voice their opinions. We were also able to include “the others” (like the executive management) in the dialogue with the help of substitutes. This created an enormous shift in the group’s awareness. A side effect was that the remaining team offsite was very productive because all opinions and concerns could be voiced already in the beginning.

Fellowship example – Team offsite