7 Tips For Solving Community Conflict that Involves Psychological Disorders

A community manager calmly listening to a woman’s complaints.

Make the properties you manage safer for residents and workers by learning some proven de-escalation techniques. 

Key takeaways

  • Conflict resolution is a vital skill for community managers 
  • Conflicts can quickly get out of control when one party has a psychological disorder
  • Specialized de-escalation techniques can help peacefully resolve most situations
  • Hiring on-site security may be necessary for more persistent issues

Most community managers deal with the occasional conflict, as neighbors, workers, and even delivery people don’t always see eye to eye. Handling these disagreements efficiently helps keep the community functioning and ensures that residents aren’t fearful or stressed as they go about their lives. 

In most cases, simply talking things out and developing a solution that works for all involved parties is possible. These situations can become much more challenging, however, when they involve someone with mental health issues.

A psychological disorder is defined as a significant disturbance in a person’s emotional regulation, cognition, or behavior. Residents, visitors, or trespassers suffering from mental health issues might not respond reasonably to your intervention, so you need to employ more advanced techniques to address the conflict. 

No two community disagreements are the same, so developing a broad conflict resolution skill set can put you in a better position to maintain the peace. Here are seven tips for dealing with more difficult conflicts.

1. Maintain self-awareness

First off, you need to look at yourself objectively through the entire conflict. That way, you can see how the other parties involved might see you while discussing the issue and adjust your behavior for better outcomes. For example, if you see yourself becoming angry or frustrated, you may need to take a step back. If you can’t keep a cool head, there’s a good chance no one else in the situation will.

When dealing with someone with a psychological disorder, maintaining your self-awareness can help you adjust your actions and language to de-escalate the situation. By making yourself less adversarial, you can hopefully calm the individual down.

2. Exercise self-control

It’s easy to get angry or aggressive when involved in a conflict with an individual suffering from a psychological disorder. However, this confrontational approach is the last thing you want to do as it can quickly escalate the situation and take the disagreement to a more intense place.

But as a community manager, it’s your job to stay calm. Eliminating unruly responses and emotions from the conflict is an essential part of finding a constructive and peaceful resolution.

3. Use assertive communication

An assertive communication style is a vital part of community conflict resolution. In short, assertive communication means you keep your self-respect and express your personal needs in the situation without becoming aggressive. It’s perfectly acceptable, for example, to inform the other party of your desired outcome without ordering them to behave in a certain way.

Assertive communication differs from aggressive communication, which has abusive or dominating undertones and can completely shut down dialogue. Aggressiveness will likely escalate a mental health crisis and should be avoided.

4. Collaborate with the other party

Simply telling the other party how you wish to resolve the conflict often isn’t enough, as sometimes you’ll have to work together to develop a solution. Collaboration is especially important in an HOA setting because the other party might have legitimate reasons for starting the disagreement in the first place, and those reasons need to be addressed to ensure peace moving forward. 

For example, if you end up in a conflict with a resident because of a parking issue, you might have to develop a solution that meets their needs to truly de-escalate the situation. This resident likely needs additional space, so finding another spot for them to park could help solve the problem. 

Trying to address the resident’s concerns can go a long way toward resolving a community conflict that involves psychological disorders. Remember, though, that your solution shouldn’t come at the expense of other residents, or you’re just opening up the potential for future conflicts down the road.

5. Develop problem-solving skills

The collaborative process could require problem-solving skills, as well. The resident will have a desired outcome, but that result might not be possible because of community rules or its impact on other residents. After all, you can’t give one resident an extra parking space by taking someone else’s spot away.

In this type of situation, you might have to use your problem-solving skills to develop a creative solution that helps de-escalate the conflict. Use strong language as you solve the issue, and don’t budge on requests that don’t make sense for the community as a whole.

6. Show empathy

Your interactions with an individual suffering from mental health problems should display empathy. You don’t have to feel sorry for the person, but it’s essential to show that you understand their frustration. 

Seeing the other person’s perspective doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with them, but it shows that you recognize why they feel the way they do. This technique makes it more likely that you’ll develop an emotional connection, which can help de-escalate the crisis.

7. Listen actively

As a community manager, you’ll likely be seen as an authority figure whenever there’s a conflict. But that doesn’t mean that you should be barking orders and “laying down the law.”

Active listening opens the door to empathy and can stop cyclical arguing in its tracks. By showing that you’re actually listening to the problems at hand, you can move toward creating a solution that works for everyone involved.

Seek outside assistance

Dealing with community conflicts is never easy, and the process becomes even more challenging when psychological disorders contribute to the problem. And while it’s often possible to de-escalate these situations by yourself, in situations involving threats, violence, or harassment, you might need to consider hiring a security firm. Fortunately, VendorSmart is here to help.

Our community management platform makes it easy to find qualified service providers and vet them before making a hire. We can help you find security solutions to protect your residents, as well as other vendors to handle jobs around your community. Contact VendorSmart for more information on our community management solutions.