Conflict Resolution

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In DisCO we strive to create a convivial atmosphere. While desirable, this is not always easy, especially in digital space, which is rife with misunderstanding. The following resources have been largely adapted from conflict resolution sections of the Loomio and Enspiral handbooks.

In DisCO we want to do conflict well. We want tensions between team members to be generative, healthy and productive. We want a culture of robust debate, honesty, and care - all in service of our goals and values.


  • Resolve conflicts as close as possible to the people involved. Begin with the people directly involved, and widen from there as needed.
  • We have mutual responsibility and care for each other. We act in good faith and work to be constructive, empathetic, and honest. We resolve conflicts with both our individual needs and the needs of the collective in mind.
  • When disagreement becomes conflicted and is blocking progress, is hurtful or harmful, a resolution needs to be found. We engage to the best of our ability to resolve conflict and seek help when needed.
  • Anyone affected by a conflict can escalate an issue that is not being resolved at the current level of engagement.
  • Resolution means the parties involved feel heard, the agreed outcome or change is clear, and normal decision-making and activity within Loomio is possible. If a conflict continues to negatively impact an individual or the team, it is not resolved.

By "escalation" we don't mean "making the conflict worse", we are talking about widening the scope to involve other members and ways of communicating.

Escalation pyramid.png

Organizational Resources

This is how we equip ourselves to approach a breakdown in communication productively.

Resources are for everyone to access and use to take responsibility for our own behavior and also to support others with theirs.

Conflict resolution practice

Clear communication and supportive mentoring are two of our core values. As practices, clear communication and ongoing support are enabled through the following practices:

  • Ongoing mentoring about our communication systems, culture and conflict resolution process are essential parts of our onboarding (Dating) phase.
  • Regular team processes to reflect on our systems and raise any issues, such as sprint standups and retrospectives, check-in rounds at meetings.
  • Prompts in mutual support basic communication and monthly sessions to work through any conflicts or problems between individuals, or between an individual and the collective as a whole.
  • Continuous focus on smooth, effective, empathetic communication online and offline (when possible) within the team. A culture of giving direct constructive feedback, listening to one another, and asking for help when needed.

Conflict resolution in action

We endeavor to resolve conflicts at the lowest possible escalation step but agree to escalate conflicts if they are not resolved. Here is the process:

Contemplate the conflict through personal reflection & individual support

  • Think through what happened.
  • Take time and space to process and clarify your thinking if you feel confused, overwhelmed, or are experiencing strong emotions.
  • Note uncertainties and possible misunderstandings in your interactions, including cultural differences.
  • Distinguish people's actions from your feelings about them. They're both important, but they're different.
  • Distinguish disagreement from personal hostility. We're allowed to disagree, dissent and discuss.
  • Talk to a trusted friend, colleague, or your Mutual Support pal to work through your own perspective and experience.
  • Ask yourself what part you played in it, what you could have done differently, and what your needs are to improve the situation.

Approach the person or persons whom you may be in conflict with

Do you feel ready to communicate with the individual in question? As we're a mostly digital collective where you have this conversation matters. We call this Escalating the Bandwidth:

"Whenever misunderstanding or conflict arise escalate the bandwidth of the channel. If you’re on Loomio (asynchronous text) move to chat (synchronous text), chat to a voice call, voice call to video call, video call to in-person meeting."[1]

Consider your communication approach and ensure a mutually agreeable time and place for conversation, including adequate privacy. The ideal is that you develop a plan together. Here are some guidelines:

  • Foster inclusive dialogue by sharing ideas, asking clarifying questions, and responding to others' ideas.
    • Identify personal wants and needs.
    • Make offers or requests.
  • In complex conflicts, develop points of agreement to facilitate progress.
  • Propose plans to treat conflict in a mutually satisfactory way.
  • Mutually sign written plans in serious cases, or whenever desired.
  • Follow up later to discuss progress.

See what works best for you. If you feel you need to go beyond individual work to resolve the problem, escalate to the next step.

Reach out for supported communication

If you're unable to resolve a conflict on your own, invite conversation. The sooner the better:

  • Bring in your Mutual Support pal to host a conversation with the people involved. The other party might want to bring their pals, too. If the Mutual Support pals feel insufficiently resourced, or you’ve tried and it didn’t resolve the conflict, escalate to the next step.
  • If the previous steps have not resolved the conflict, reach out to the Community Steward or ask your Mutual Support pal. They will try to find a mutually agreeable next step, such as hosting a mediation themselves or inviting an external mediator or other experts in.

If the above steps are not successful in resolving the conflict, the situation will be escalated beyond the conflict resolution process and become a structural matter for the coop to handle. At this stage, the stewards will be engaged to gather all the information about the situation and figure out the next steps. Irresolvable conflicts may lead to someone leaving the collective, referral to external authorities if relevant, or systemic/structural changes to our collective.

  1. This is extracted from Joshua Vial's blog post Some learnings on resolving conflict on Loomio