How to deal with heated discussions

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In teamwork it happens from time to time that people disagree. When all of those people are highly motivated and there is some pressure of the circumstances this can lead to heated discussions in which everybody feels uncomfortable. This blogpost is a draft for a guideline how to channel those heated discussions into constructive meetings with a good atmosphere.

First, there should be a moderator for the meeting who keeps the focus on the agenda and makes sure that everybody can articulate their arguments.

Meeting Agenda

The problem solving meeting should include the following phases:

Introduction

In the beginning the moderator should state the purpose of the meeting
and give an overview over its roadmap.

Analysis

The next phase starts with a problem analysis. All the facts and constraints should be written down. This could be done on a whiteboard, with post-it notes or digitally on the projector.

Solution

Afterwards the search for a solution can start. At first it helps to think into
different directions. Creativity techniques like the good old brainstorming might be beneficial. Let everybody make their point.

Then the best ideas need to be selected and combined. Try to find a compromise everybody is happy with!

Planning

The result of the meeting should be one or more action items. Every action item needs to have a name and a due date assigned to make sure it gets done.

Conclusion

Problems can be seen as opportunity to learn. Be nice to each other.