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Kunal SinhaContent Writer
Saturday, March 23 2024

Conflict resolution in an online community: What's the best approach?

“Virtual communities represent flexible, lively, and practical adaptations to the real circumstances that confront persons seeking community”- Allucquère Rosanne Stone

In an online community, things may go horribly wrong very quickly. Being able to pinpoint the root of the strife is the first step in learning how to resolve disputes in your community.

Conflict typically results from personalities clashing within your community's membership, from common issues with the use of online communication tools, from how your community's members approach achieving their goals, or from how the members perceive you as the community manager, your business, or the online space you've given them.

The following list of potential causes may help you identify the type of issue you are experiencing and, perhaps, find a solution, even though community conflict can occasionally be extremely complex.

Conflicts in the Online Community - Reasons

You can determine if a fight is likely to be constructive for your community (whether the concerns relate to personal aspirations, platform-related issues, or other variables you can influence) or destructive by delving into specific causes and distinguishing individual causes (if issues are generally interpersonal or emotional or if you have no control on the source of the issue).

1. Expectations related to causes of conflict

It's possible for members of your community to have expectations that aren't being met or that don't line up with those of other community members. These may consist of:

  • Differing principles & mismatching values: Are your community's guiding principles clearly visible, and are the proper people joining your online community?
  • Diversity of perspectives: Do your membership's different viewpoints frequently conflict with one another?
  • Lack of focus: Is your community engaged or are they just aimlessly walking around?
  • Disagreement over strategy or execution: Does your membership support the direction and strategy you are taking your online community?

2. Personality-driven causes of conflict

Each of us is highly different from the others and has a distinct personality. While this keeps your online community interesting and promotes a variety of discussion, occasionally personalities and communication styles clash, for instance:

  • Limitations of reading and writing capabilities: Are certain people in your society less literate than others, less careful with their writing, or less certain that they comprehend the message they are responding to?
  • Immovable opinions: Have people predetermined their own positions and are unable to engage in flexible debate?
  • In-articulation of differing values: Are community members not articulating different sets of values in a way that allows for fruitful dialogues to occur?
  • Dismissiveness: Is the language used in the discussion in any way patronising, belittling, or condescending?

3. Environmental causes of conflict

The environment you provide for your community might occasionally lead to issues. We use both functional and interpersonal skills when we communicate. The following can occur when things are somehow lacking:

  • No physical communication cues: Are you having trouble distinguishing mood and tone among your membership since there aren't any nonverbal visual cues?
  • Impersonality of the medium: Are people in your community letting their guard down and saying things they wouldn't dare do in person?
  • Misinterpreted silences: Is the time delay between responses caused by the intrinsic asynchronicity of the communication channel used by your community exaggerating the problem?
  • Perceptions of public vs private spaces online: Do members in your community have varying views on how public or private online conversations should be?

4. Emotional causes of conflict

The members of your online community will gradually start to experience underlying emotional problems, which will affect how they interact.

  • Historical problems: Do specific members of the community engage differently now because of past disagreements on a personal level?
  • Prejudice: Are people butting heads in your online group because of personal prejudices?
  • Perception of injustice: Is there a specific individual who claims others in the community are persecuting them?
  • Power dynamics: Have a few cliques formed, and are they fighting for dominance and power in your community?

Best approach to Solve Community Conflict

Conflicts within communities can be complex and challenging to resolve. However, the following steps can be used to develop a strategy to solve community conflict effectively:

1. Identify the root cause:

The first step in resolving a conflict is to identify the underlying cause of the problem. This requires understanding the different perspectives of all parties involved and gathering information to gain a complete understanding of the situation.

2. Encourage open communication:

Encourage all parties involved to openly communicate their concerns and perspectives. This helps to build trust and understanding, and can lead to a resolution that is mutually beneficial.

3. Foster active listening:

 Encourage all parties to actively listen to one another and understand their perspectives. This helps to build empathy and can lead to a resolution that is more likely to be accepted by all parties involved.

4. Use neutral facilitators:

If the conflict is particularly complex or intense, consider bringing in a neutral third-party facilitator to help mediate the discussion and guide the parties towards a resolution.

5. Consider different options:

 Work with the parties involved to identify potential solutions to the conflict. Encourage creative thinking and consider a range of options, including compromise and collaboration.

6. Agree on a solution:

Once all parties have had the opportunity to express their concerns and perspectives, work together to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.

7. Implement the solution:

Once a solution has been agreed upon, it is important to put it into action and monitor its effectiveness. This can help prevent future conflicts and ensure that the resolution is implemented effectively.

Deal with it

In conclusion, solving community conflict requires a strategic and collaborative approach. By encouraging open communication, active listening, and creative problem-solving, it is possible to reach a mutually beneficial resolution that benefits all parties involved.

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