Other elements that could lead to conflict include asynchronicity, the perceptions of what is appropriate for public and for private online spaces, and the limitations of reading and writing. These elements can lead to misunderstanding and to often needless conflict.
To avoid potential conflict arising from such misunderstandings, the authors suggest making “I” statements, which would allow the persons involved to understand the feelings behind the statements. Assumptions, as mentioned above, should be checked by questioning, and elements of active listening are also important. Finally, it is important to acknowledge perspectives other than ones own. It is also important to indicate an understanding that the perspective is ones own and not necessarily that of the others.
The authors also note that conflict will not always be avoided, but can be used as opportunities for learning and growth. When conflicts occur, the persons involved can learn about themselves and the reasons behind their strong reactions. They can also learn to communicate in a way that will lead to better interpersonal interaction between them. The learning experience then culminates not only in better self-knowledge, but also in a better ability to solve or avoid conflicts with others in the future.
In conclusion, a recognition that online communication differs significantly from real-time conversations lies at the basis of effective online functioning as a team. The team leader should recognize his or her responsibility towards the team on several levels: each team member should have the tools he or she needs to thrive. It is also the team leaders responsibility to ensure that conflict offers opportunities for growth and further team fortification. In this way, a strong and successful online learning team will result.
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