Working with conflict


Is an Agile approach to conflict resolution which Kate learnt from software consultant @simoncopsey and adapted for use in co-operatives. It focuses on looking to achieve continuous improvement via periodic meetings.

‘From Conflict to Co-operation’ is a series of booklets written by Kate and illustrated by Angela Martin and published by  Co-operatives UK in .pdf format. They address how to deal with the inevitable conflicts that arise – and how to avoid unnecessary conflicts, by improving communication; by improving meetings and decision-making; by effectively managing growth and change and by clarifying the role of the management committee or Board.

Conflict is an inevitable part of life – reflecting people’s different opinions, values, tastes, upbringing, culture, education, access to resources and more. We learn how to cope with it at an early age – perhaps in the school playground when we decide either to take on the school bully, to divert the aggression with a joke – or to run away! This early learning can become a fixed part of our personality, guiding how we react to conflict for the rest of our lives, unless we review our habitual responses and recognise that there are a range of different approaches to dealing with conflict, which may be more or less useful according to the situation.

What’s your habitual response to conflict? Are you a cuddly teddy bear or a hungry shark? Try our popular game of conflict resolution in proverbs and find out!

Conflict resolution in proverbs

Conflict in a group situation is to be welcomed. It reflects the range of experience, skills and knowledge that exists in the group. If everyone always agrees, you might want to ask yourselves if there is an element of ‘groupthink’ going on. See Meetings & decision-making – Different decision making styles – for info on groupthink.

However it helps to have tools for taking the steam out of situations of tension in the workplace:

Dealing with workplace tensions

But how do we arrive at that perfect win win solution? Luckily some big thinkers at Harvard have come up with an interesting approach that involves negotiation on the basis of principles, rather than power. This highly recommended book, ‘Getting to Yes’ is by Fisher and Ury and is published by Arrow Books and is available in all good bookshops. There’s a summary below:


Need help?

All resources on the Co-operantics website are free and we encourage “DIY”, self-help in co-ops.  However, if you require external assistance resolving a particular incidence of conflict, want some conflict resolution training or you would like us to facilitate a session in your organisation please look at our services to help your co-op deal with conflict or contact us and we can discuss a price.