Wherever you have people, you sometimes have conflict: when it occurs normally the competition is civilised occasionally it is brutal.
So when things get hot, how should you react?
The normal human reaction is to rise or fall to the level of those around you: if they get angry, you get angry. If they start blaming, you start blaming. This does not move things forward. In practice, there are some basic principles to follow:
- Focus on the outcome: do you want to win an argument or win an ally?
- Remain positive: you will be remembered for how you behave.
- Listen and empathise: it is very hard for people to remain angry when they are being listened to.
- Only deal with the issue when the other side is calm and ready to listen.
- Avoid blame.
Finally, how do you remain positive when everyone else is being negative and hostile? Remember, the moment you join in the game of making snide remarks, you give the other side the chance to crawl out of the gutter and get on their high horse by highlighting your negative behaviour. You have to wear the mask of leadership and be the role model others want to follow. When the immediate conflict is over, you will be remembered more for how you behaved than for the merits of your argument. No one, least of all your volunteer line manager, cares for the "I said, he said but we meant, anyway they didn't..." discussion. All your righteous indignation will achieve is to throw more fuel on the fire.
It does not matter what your personal trick is for staying calm, as long as you have one and it works.