Conflict Resolution and Gaming
For those who have gamed for any period of time, you are bound to run into a situation where you disagree with others at the table. This will be whether you’re a player and disagree with another player’s actions, you’re a player and disagree with the GM’s actions, or you’re a GM and disagree with a player. More often than not, this leads to anger, possible shouting, and hurt feelings. People become defensive and some will never admit that they are wrong. Because of this, I recommend looking into conflict resolution techniques.
There are many methods and techniques out there for conflict resolution. Here are some of the more common techniques and the ones that have worked for me in the past.
- Attack the problem, not the person.
This is extremely important. When conflict begins, people get defensive. It’s natural. In order to alleviate this defensiveness, you need to make sure that you are focusing on the problem at hand and not on the person involved.
- Communicate your feelings assertively, not aggressively. Express them without blaming.
This is also important. Again, you’re focusing on the problem and why you feel it’s an issue. Don’t focus on the person and blame them. They may have not even meant to do it in the first place.
- Accept that individual opinions may differ, don’t try to force compliance, and work to develop agreement.
Compromise is key. You must be willing to understand that this is not about you getting your way, but rather that you need to focus on making sure that everyone is having fun at the table.
- Do not view the situation as a competition. Focus on areas of common interest and agreement, instead of areas of disagreement and opposition.
Again, focus on compromise and making it fun for all.
- Listen without interrupting; ask for feedback if needed to assure a clear understanding of an issue.
This is called active listening. You need to not only hear what the other person is saying but really listen to them. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next but, rather, listen and understand where they’re coming from.
- Forget the past and stay in the present.
Don’t bring up issues from previous sessions. Focus solely on the problem at hand.
- Remember that when only one person’s needs are satisfied in a conflict, it is NOT resolved and will continue.
This is very important to remember. Conflict resolution is not about simply getting your way; it is about making sure everyone is having fun.
- Thank the person for listening.
Everyone wants to feel their points are valid. Thanking the person for listening to your issues is one way to do that.
Hopefully these steps will help. Remember that conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. Conflict that can be resolved quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction can be a good thing because it helps everyone shape how the game is played at the table so that everyone has fun. And isn’t that the whole point of gaming?