How to have Difficult Conversations in your Community

Volatile situations may present itself in communities when a conflict stirs up a difficult conversation, what do you do then?
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Hritika Singh
January 3, 2022

So you have built a community and it’s growing at a good pace. You have been successfully running events and driving engaging conversations with the members. Except, one day you wake up to realise that something has gone wrong.

A situation of conflict - someone has violated the guidelines you had set as ground rules for the community. It’s a moment of distress. Whispers start growing in the community and you have to firefight your way through this.

What now?

Delicate situations like this can get difficult to handle. Keeping a cool head and a well-thought-out strategy can come in handy for you as a community manager. Here’s how you can navigate through the situation smoothly.

Accept the Mistake

There’s no better way of dealing with errors than owning up to it. If you feel that there was an error from your end, let the members know. This will help set a strong foundation for your community’s culture.

While it might be the hard thing to do, it is much better than finding ways to avoid conversations or hiding information from members.

Communicate your Action Plan

As community managers, building a safe space for other members should be your utmost priority. In case of a situation of conflict, make sure that you let all members know about your next steps.

Communicating your action plan effectively both in both verbal and written forms leaves no room for confusion. This can be a significant step in controlling the intensity of the situation.

Hear More, Talk Less

Difficult conversations may not necessarily go as planned. To avoid further conflict, choose to listen. Shift your focus from talking to listening, reflecting on the series of events and observing the mood of the room.

To build a safe space for members, it is crucial to make sure everyone is heard. Scheduling personal 1-1s with members will make them feel heard and respected. This will you build trust in your community.

Respect Feelings, Never Disregard

Never disregard feelings as a response to conflict. Saying things like “This is no big deal”, “It happens”, “This is not that big of a problem” will never get you an ideal outcome. Instead of delaying the process, face it with empathy right upfront.

Make sure while addressing sensitive issues, you are being respectful, empathetic and fair.

Revise your Community Guidelines

Having an elaborate set of community guidelines ensures that you have set the basic rules for the community that people need to follow. However, as your community grows, updating it regularly is always a good practice.

Make sure every member receives the information every time you add or revise this document. Don’t hesitate to take strict actions towards members who violate the rules.

With truth and conviction in your words, you’ll be able to build trust in your community. Have you ever been in a situation like this? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below.

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