Conflict Resolution Protocol

I. Objective For This Protocol

The San Diego Collaborative Arts Project (SDCAP) is committed to creating a fun, friendly and safe environment. Open communication is the only way to create such an atmosphere. Also, everyone in our community helps create and shape SDCAP. Therefore, everyone involved in SDCAP should feel heard and be taken seriously without being penalized for voicing an idea. This protocol is designed to facilitate open communication on every level of SDCAP, and also, provide guidelines for resolving conflicts between members of our project.

II. Your Responsibilities

  1. Review this document and familiarize yourself with its goals, and the recommended approaches for conflict resolution.
  2. Remember that SDCAP is a community of individuals working together for a common goal. If there is conflict between community members, we urge the individuals involved to first discuss the issues with each other. Issues are best resolved when people deal directly face-to-face.
  3. If you find yourself in a conflict, communicate in a non-confrontational manner by stating why the other person’s actions concern you, and/or how his or her actions make you feel. Engage in active listening to allow the other person to be heard. Accusations are highly likely to result in the other person becoming defensive. This will not do anything to resolve the conflict, and will undoubtedly “fuel the fire.” Try to resolve the conflict sooner, rather than later. Otherwise the situation will fester and result in more conflict.
  4. If direct communication fails to resolve the conflict then ask yourself if you have done your best to address the other person’s concerns. If the answer to this question is “yes,” then you should get a third-party involved as outlined below in part III. of this protocol.
  5. If you find yourself in a conflict then act according to  the guidelines in this protocol.
  6. Everyone needs to “vent” now and then. Sometimes this can alleviate a minor conflict. Try to do this in the proper place and time. Complaining to the wrong person will undoubtedly turn into gossip.

III. Conflict Resolution Protocols

  1. Conflict With Another Member Of Your Team: When a team member or a group of team members finds it difficult to work with another member, and have been unable to resolve the problem directly with the individual or within the group (see section II. C. above), a third-party, such as the Volunteer Coordinator, Team Leader, the Ombuds, or some other neutral party may be asked to help facilitate a discussion. This may mean the third-party simply encourages or helps arrange a meeting. Or, this could mean that the individuals wish to involve the third-party as a mediator in their meeting.
  2. Conflict With Your Team Leader: If you are having a conflict with your team leader and the methods for resolving conflict prescribed in this document (see section II. 3. above) are not working then consider involving the leader of your department (or Ombuds for more serious conflicts). Use your best discretion when making this decision. The more serious the conflict, the more important it will be to get a more senior leader or the Ombuds involved. If the person with whom you are in conflict happens to be your team leader then follow the guidelines in the preceding two paragraphs, but use a Board member as the third-party mediator.
  3. Conflicts Between People in Leadership Roles: Conflicts between people in leadership roles should be handled the same as other conflicts within teams (see III. 1. above). In this case the third-party should be the Ombuds.
  4. Conflict With A Board Member: If you are having a conflict with an SDCAP Board Member then you should approach one of the other members of the SDCAP Board or the Ombuds for consultation on the matter for support or to resolve the problem. All members of the SDCAP Board are committed to the fair treatment of volunteers and staff and hold high expectations for one another. Please note that the entire SDCAP Board will address all issues brought to any individual SDCAP Board member.
  5. Conflict Resolution Advocate: Another option is involving SDCAP’s Ombuds, who is our conflict resolution advocate. Please note that the Ombuds should only be used for actual conflict resolution, and not for gossip, venting or any other reason (see section II. 5. & 6. above). Please also note that matters of grave importance that relate to board activities or SDCAP sponsored activities cannot be kept confidential and must be communicated to the SDCAP Board (see section IV. below).

IV. Confidentiality

If you approach a third-party such as the Conflict Resolution Advocate about an issue, and you would like the issue to remain confidential, then you should state this at the outset. Please note, however, that everyone has a duty to report issues of grave importance that relate to board activities or SDCAP sponsored activities such as those involving sexual harassment, physical injury or threat of physical injury/death to self or others, legal issues or the survival of the event to the SDCAP Board immediately.

Additionally, the Ombuds is responsible for reporting the general nature of all conflict resolution activities that relate to board activities or SDCAP sponsored activities to the SDCAP Board. Finally, remember that no one has the power to prevent others from communicating information that they may have learned inadvertently.