Leadership Partners Blog

Steve and John Are Yelling Again: Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Imagine you are walking down the hall at work and you hear two voices in the conference room. Steve is telling John that he will NOT do “that.” It won’t work and he refuses to do it.

“You will do it!”


The door opens and slams, Steve storms down the hall.

We know Steve isn’t happy about the work, we know John wants it done and it must be important.  These two have a history of standoffs. They yell, but the work gets done.

How could this be productive.  How?  When we are witness or party to such exchanges we can’t see that his is ever beneficial.  Well, THIS particular behavior isn’t, but what can be learned is beneficial.  If each would commit to working together, John would ask Steve why it won’t work.  This would give Steve the opportunity to explain that the current building regulations specify how this is installed and that they won’t pass inspection doing it John’s way.

Instead, Steve storms down the hall calculating a way to get the inspections done before and then after the install so that they don’t hit a delay.  Also, Steve knows an innovative method to approach the installation of the chiller that is cheaper, faster and less dangerous. Steve saw it done earlier in the year on another project but can’t tell John about it before the blow up begins.

Disagreement doesn’t have to mean there is a winner and a loser. Often it means that together you can find a better answer than either of you had individually. Talking about issues and exploring the options without a power struggle or anger is the key to Productive Disagreement.

Try asking questions and letting the situation play out with an open mind. See what you learn and what changes come from this new mindset.  Having trouble seeing that this is possible, call us.  We can help!  Conflict Resolution in the workplace doesn’t have to be hard.

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