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Transforming conflict: tips for people working with small businesses

The Victorian Small Business Commission is here to provide every support we can to people in small business during this challenging time.

This is a stressful period for many business owners who are impacted, which is why it’s vital for those who provide support to have the right skills to be as helpful as possible.

Our dispute resolution officers who provide help early on and our panel of independent mediators are highly skilled in resolving disputes. They have a wealth of experience in transforming conflict so that positive outcomes can be achieved for everyone involved.

People who work with small businesses might also find themselves in situations where they could help in transforming conflict.

From negative to positive

At a recent forum we delivered as part of our Small Business Friendly Council initiative, VSBC mediator Jim Cyngler talked about his model for transforming conflict. He explored how the model could be called on in day to day interactions.

Jim spoke about how acknowledging a person’s needs and emotions when they are distressed and empowering them to decide how to resolve a matter can transform difficult interactions from negative and destructive to positive and constructive.

Guiding principles

So what are the guiding principles when it comes to resolving conflict?

  • Be attentive and empathise with the small business owner who is experiencing distress
  • Monitor the issues without making judgements
  • Reflect statements back to the business owner to make sure the key issues have been understood
  • Ask questions if any points are not clear

Jim focused on the value in following a conversation rather than leading it and creating an environment that supports the empowerment of the people involved.

The workshop was a great reminder that while these are difficult times, shifting our mindset and adjusting the way we communicate can go a long way in supporting people in small business who are doing it tough.

Find out more about our small business supports.