Constructive Conflict - at work - or anywhere:

Conflict resolution

Catherine Gillespie, director of Workplace Conflict Resolution, gives her top tips on this often testy subject.

Conflict essentially stems from a difference of perspective. This shouldn't be avoided. Constructive conflict embraces these situations as an opportunity to discuss, enquire, learn, problem-solve and produce good.

Step 1: Acknowledge that you have to address a situation

Early intervention saves time and energy and gives the best opportunity for improved outcomes and restored relationships, yet we rarely do this. Seize the moment!

Step 2: Take a deep breath, clear your mind and set your intent

This needs to be a calm and focused conversation, not a reactive one. Prepare using the 'GROW' model and remain analytical.

Step 3: Active listening

Firstly, this is an enquiry conversation, so listen, ask questions and let the other person know you have heard and understood them. Acknowledge their perspective. Now there is more chance they will listen and acknowledge your perspective.

Step 4: Constructive conversations

Be assertive but avoid judgmental and destructive comments. This is not about being nice; it's about constructive outcomes. Speak from behind the 'organisational filter' - remember you are representing the organisation; this is not about you.

Step 5: Gain mileage

Too often managers find this conversation uncomfortable and look for an early exit, not capitalising on the real gains to be made. Before closing, check

understanding and clarify agreements. Document and if necessary send an email. It is vital that managers regularly follow up to keep communication open, build on that conversation and relationship, and ensure the agreement is fulfilled.

All managers should be increasing the number of 'conversation contacts' they have with staff, being clear on their expectations and allowing staff to give opinions and raise issues. Having more detailed and robust conversations more often will promote a productive, effective and harmonious team.

For further conflict resolution tips or to obtain professional guidance on conflict  issues, visit

Dan Hatch
Mining People International