How do we handle them?
It’s not just the Chair’s job to mediate conflicts, in fact sometimes the conflict may involve the Chair, so every board member should be armed with tools to mediate conflicts. Here are some ideas drawn from a BoardSource article but please contribute your own.
- Disagree with the idea, don’t criticise the individual
- Respond to a disagreement with a spirit of inquiry. Ask for clarification or examples.
- Humour is an effective means of reducing tension
- If the board is deeply divided, suggest postponing the decision-making and appointing a task force to work on a proposal for the board. Make sure all factions in the disagreement are included in the task force.
- Ask two people who most oppose each other to sit down together and work out a common approach.
- Focus on commonalities. Point out the similarities between individual perspectives. Let the board know you want to build on those.
- Separate personalities from ideas.
- Ensure that disagreement is expressed sensitively.