1) As a Group Leader, work towards a better understanding and acceptance of your relationship to conflict. There are various obstacles to dealing with conflict, including the group leader's own discomfort. Consider the following points:
a) Conflict is often meant to reflect a group member's unmet need.
b) Conflict is best not to be taken personally, which is easier said than done.
c) Working through conflict can improve a group's sense of intimacy and connection.
d) Some group members will feel both value and relief in the leader's not shying away from conflict.
e) Countertransference exploration around conflict dynamics are very useful, and may for the most part be kept private.
2) Promote and work towards "adult" conflict. Periodic naming of the term "adult conflict" and outlining examples of the following are useful.
a) Ask, could the interaction have been phrased, or worded differently to perhaps have a different impact?
b) Ask what is familiar about the conflict with the individual(s) involved;
c) In a dyad conflict, ask what each member needs from each other.
d) Check in with members during the next session to see whether the conflict is resolved, or may be a work in progress.
f) Check in with members who are not directly involved in the conflict and see how they are feeling.
g) Educate group members about the nature of conflict; it is not always easily resolvable, and may require a certain amount of work.
h) Support the concept that the group can be a healthier model of dealing with conflict.
3) Consider a "there and then" approach. If a particular conflict is very heated and does not show signs of abating, ask several "there and then" exploratory questions to help group members reflect on their histories. Thus, add meaning, context, and possibly empathy to the discussion. This exploration can help with curiosity and reflection in the middle of a conflict, both for members involved in the conflict, and those who are not.
4) Ask for feedback regarding how group members see you handling the conflict. This exploration can be very telling. For example, if a group member observes you have a bias, a blind spot, or some other observation that normally would not have been shared. As always, considering the source and context is important. Maintaining and expressing curiosity about the viewpoint also may deepen your understanding of this particular group member. Express either appreciation, or value for the feedback you are receiving.