Free community engagement tips and skills


Working with emotion, conflict and outrage

#1 Don't shy away from the signs of conflict.  

View conflict as an offer that you accept, embrace and address.

#2 Acknowledge the differences

Acknowledge the differences and tension points within the conflict, then explore the issue and seek clarification.

#3 Active listening is key

When working with people showing signs of outrage, you don’t just need to listen, you need actively show that you’re listening.  Active listening (using skills like paraphrasing and summarising) are good conversational practices that apply to any interaction, but are crucial in this context.

#4 Gauge concern levels & understand the issues

Early in a meeting, where you know there may be outrage present, get a sense of concern levels straight away.  Ask questions like “why are you here?”, “what do you want to achieve?” or “what questions would you like answered?.  The responses (and tone of responses) will inform your next steps, and and enable people to get their issues out on the table or onto the agenda early.

#5 Clarifying is simple but powerful

Not only does it show that you're listening and interested, ensuring others feel heard, it also allows you to uncover crucial information that sheds light on the issue at hand - so always ask plenty of questions if a group or individual shows signs of emotion, outrage or concern.




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