Manage This … Conflict Resolution

When you work with people conflict is a fact of life. But it does not have to be all negative; in fact, it is healthy, productive and necessary to disagree. However, conflict becomes damaging when it is avoided or gets nasty — two unfortunately frequent outcomes when people do not know how to manage it.

What do you do when you are having a conflict? First of all, make sure you address it at the right time. Don’t try to talk something through when you know the other person is stressed or when you are still very angry. On the other hand, don’t put it off.

Plan your conversation. To stay on track, write down the points you want to cover. Let the other person know the topic of the conversation so that they can be adequately prepared, for example: “Jane, I’d like to spend some time discussing our disagreement in the staff meeting over the resource allocation and work together on how we can resolve it.”

People get upset because of the perceived intent, not the content. So communicate your intent first: “Jane, I want the two of us to be able to work together well — I know we both have a lot to offer.”

State facts, focusing on the behavior, not the person and avoid assumptions.

Do not say, “I know you think I’m holding back these resources to get back at you for the disagreement over the Smith account.” Instead, say, “The conversation at the meeting on Thursday started out talking about the resource allocation, but then turned into a discussion on the Smith account. I’d like to talk about how we can reach resolution on the Smith account, then move into resource allocation.”

If a conflict cannot be resolved between the two parties, or if it is on-going, bring in a neutral third party to establish standards of behavior. This works with groups of two up to 40. The key is follow-up and the agreement that both parties will hold each other accountable for adhering to the expectations.

To get one-on-one coaching or training and learn more specific ways to manage conflict, contact Kerrie Halmi at Halmi Performance Consulting: or 510-336-0654.

Manage this …what helps you get promoted, obtain more interesting work, and do better at your current job? Networking! It’s not a dirty word. Learn how to do it better. More details right here on the second Monday in September.

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About the Author: Kerrie Halmi is a coach and facilitator specializing in people management skills. Her passion is increasing women’s success in business. See

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Based on the highly successful 6 week Professional Women’s Dream Team and feedback that women wanted more time to focus on the content and more one-on-one coaching, we have expanded the Professional Women’s Dream Team into a 9 month program, with monthly half-day facilitation during the workday and monthly one-on-one coaching sessions.

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I’m speaking at Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA) on Wednesday, October 11 about Coaching for HR and Business Leaders. Go to§ion=events to register.

August 2006:

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