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Entries from November 2018

Engaging in Conflict Objectively

16th November 2018

Engaging in Conflict Objectively


In the past year I’ve become more interested in conflict in the workplace, particularly the degree to which it is ignored, neglected and avoided. I’ve even begun to wonder how well I deal with it.

Conflict when handled well can lead to an amazing work environment where relationships really matter. When not handled well it can create very toxic environments.

My invitation to you is to consider how do you handle conflict?

Do you address it when it’s present?

Are you aware that it’s present?  It can be easily disguised in sarcasm, laughter and avoidance.

How do you surface it in a way that is non confrontational?

Do you become defensive or play the victim?

Conflict is normal

Conflict is normal. It’s all around us, in our families, friends, colleagues and in the world at large. Your job as a leader is to find a way through it and unlock the potential behind it.

It shows up in teams as feeling stuck, flares of anger/frustration, avoiding topics or people and being defensive. We all recognise it and the impact it has on us personally. It stifles creativity, productivity and individual performance. Yet very few of us take proactive action.

How can you pull people in the same direction and embrace their differences?

Creating a supportive culture

You are expected to manage the complexity and multiple layers of the work environment and yet so often we see conflict as binary – one person is right and the other is wrong. Instead consider the relationships at stake.

How can you help the relationships build and grow rather than be destructive?

Conflict is often a sign that a desire or need is not being met, so, with this in mind your job is to become an explorer and detective to reveal this. This requires you to be a master at asking questions and a consummate listener…

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Begin the conversation with a curious tone.
  • Take turns speaking and listening.
  • Acknowledge and respect each others hopes and dreams.
  • Recognise the solution may take time, don’t look for a quick fix.
  • Consider asking the following questions:
    • Tell me the story.
    • What do you believe about this issue?
    • How do you feel about it?
    • What do you want/need?
    • Tell me what do these things mean to you?

Like all things that require a change in behaviour it takes practice and if you’d like some additional support then fee free to call me.

“Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.”

Peter Drucker







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