Psychological Safety and Micro-conflicts (Spats) in Teams

In a research paper in 2017 “The dynamics of micro-conflicts and uncertainty in successful and unsuccessful design teams” (link to PDF), the authors seem to have made a direct correlation between successful design teams and how they tackled their micro-conflicts.

The authors found that a team’s psychological safety was directly related to how teams (in this case, design teams) addressed their interpersonal micro-conflicts. In a psychologically safe environment, team members were more likely to share their perspectives and insights, which led to a better understanding of the issues at hand and helped to find mutually acceptable solutions. They reported that successful teams could navigate through micro-conflicts by creating a supportive and collaborative environment that allowed team members to openly communicate and address their micro-conflicts in a timely and effective manner.

Conversely, when team members don’t have a method to address their micro-conflicts effectively, they may be hesitant to speak up and address any problems they may have, which can result in issues going unresolved and potentially escalating into conflicts later. This can lead to decreased team cohesion and communication breakdowns, negatively impacting team performance.

With this in mind, we have created SpatzAI, a behavior management toolkit for team micro-conflicts. By explicitly helping teams address their micro-conflicts or minor spats, we believe it will foster psychological safety, creating a culture of open communication and collaboration and enabling teams to achieve their ultimate goals.

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