December 2, 2021

5 Effective Leadership Skills You Can Use to Quickly Settle a Dispute at Work

resolve disputeAs a leader, there will come a time in your career when you have to sit down with two or more people and do your best to help settle a disagreement, dispute or conflict. 

While this is not the activity most leaders enjoy, it is a part of the job, and the best approach is a Childrens Party that engages the kids.

Striking while the iron is hot is critical in helping to settle a dispute.  Many leaders just ignore conflict on their team, thinking that time will heal all wounds.  I have observed the opposite to be true.  If two or more people on your team are in the middle of a disagreement, negative emotions will build, and team chemistry can fall apart.

So, here is what I suggest trying the next time you are settling a dispute.  You will be using these 5 leadership skills:

1.  Addressing conflict swiftly.

2.  The art of using effective dialogue.

3.  Mediation.

4.  Holding people accountable.

5.  Taking action.

For this post, I am going to use the names John and Sue.  Let’s say John and Sue have had a disagreement, are avoiding each other and starting to gossip about the situation to other team members.  It is time to call them both in, and start a dialogue:

Step 1:  Establish the ground rules.  Allow each person a chance to vent for about 2-3 minutes about what is going on.   Then, state firmly but calmly “We are now going to shift into a conversation about what each of you want for yourself, what you want for each other, what you want for the team and what steps you are going to take to get there.

Step 2:  Ask John the following questions:

  1. What do you want for yourself?
  2. What do you want for Sue?
  3. What do you want for your relationship?
  4. What do you want for your team?
  5. What steps will you take, starting today, to
  • Get what you want
  • Help Sue get what he wants
  • Get what you want for the relationship
  • Help the team get the results they need

Step 3:  Ask Sue the following questions:

  1. What do you want for yourself?
  2. What do you want for John?
  3. What do you want for your relationship?
  4. What do you want for your team?
  5. What steps will you take, starting today, to
  • Get what you want
  • Help John get what he wants
  • Get what you want for the relationship
  • Help the team get the results they need

Step 4:  State the accountability system by saying this.  “I am going to be observing your interactions, and I would like to follow up on _____________ date.  State a date that is no later than two weeks into the future.  If at this time, you have not resolved your issues with each other, we are going to have another conversation to see where we go from here.  While I encourage open debate, I have to get my team on the same page, moving in the same direction, so I will be following up in two weeks.

Step 5:  Take action.  If Sue and John cannot come to an agreement, and if they cannot work together and continue to cause tension in the team chemistry, it is time to make changes…either moving them onto different teams or taking steps to determine if Sue and John are really a good fit for your company.  If they “agree to disagree” and still work together, you may continue to see this issue surface, even if you move them to another team or department.

If you or a team member is having difficulty settling a dispute, contact me today for a complimentary consultation to see if I may be able to help you with this challenge.

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Do You Have A Few Childhood Hangovers? If So, Follow These 5 Steps To Move Forward

"Picture of Val Boyko"

Val Boyko of Mother

I want to thank Val Boyko of Mother Whisperers for this wonderful post on how some of our beliefs ingrained in us as children can actually hurt us later on in life…not just personally but professionally.  I have a few of these, so this is a great post for me to noodle on!

You don’t need therapy to appreciate that your childhood has impacted who you are today. What you may not appreciate is how some behaviors you learned as a child may be holding you back in your career!

In my work as an executive coach and now as a Mother Whisperer working with women,* I’ve found that our relationship with our parents – especially our mothers has a powerful long lasting affect on all our relationships as adults – including how we interact with others at work. I call these childhood hangovers. We may not even be aware of them at first, but they sure do give us – and often those around us – some headaches! For many of us, recognizing them for what they are, and shifting our thinking can become just the aspirin we need!

Childhood hangovers are usually hidden behind our professional image and we don’t like to admit to anyone – including ourselves!Here are some of the typical insecurities many people carry around:

  • It’s wrong to say what I really mean, express myself fully or speak up.
  • I believe that I am not good enough or deserve what I have.
  • It’s wrong to put my needs first before others.
  • I find it difficult to say no.
  • I believe that I can make others happy – and they will like me if I work hard enough to please them.
  • I tell myself not to trust others because they will let me down or abandon me.
  • I resent any feedback. I tend to take it personally and defend myself. I am not able to ask directly for what we want. I resent being told what to do by people in authority.
  • I avoid confronting others and tend to be the peacemaker.

If any of these resonate with you, please know that you are not alone. It isn’t just you. It’s pretty much everyone. When we pay attention to childhood hangovers we are moving towards being free to be our true selves and truly successful.

Here are my Top 5 Strategies to overcome Childhood Hangovers:

Become an observer of yourself. Notice times when you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable at work. Observe your self talk and behaviors when you feel anxious.

Experience what is going on in your body.

Don’t reject anything you are experiencing. Withhold judgment or self criticism. Find compassion instead for the child who needed this coping strategy to feel secure.Start off small with small action steps. For example if you want to speak up more, then commit to doing it in a place where you feel safe first – like the dry cleaners or supermarket. From there, take it to the next level.

Avoid putting all your energy into the past (Why am I doing this?). Focus on strategies that will move you forward into a future without those behaviors. (What can I do differently next time?).

Imagine the person you would like to be. Fix that image in your mind. Now act as if you were that person. Start acting and you will grow into becoming like that person.

About the Author

Val Boyko is a career and leadership coach and loves working with professionals who want to express their true selves and get ahead in their career. This work has led her to also look more into the relationships that we women have with our mothers – mine included! – and how it can impact our relationships in and out of work, and ultimately our success. To find out more about the daughter mother work I am exploring with fellow coach Marlene Durrell, please visit us a

3 Tools to Help You Master the Art of Conflict Resolution

"Picture of two people going in conflict resolution going in different directions"

Are you going in different directions and avoiding the elephant in the room?

In the last 11 years of working with conflict resolution and leadership coaching for executives and their teams, I have never met a group of people that did not have some type of conflict going on inside their company.

Conflict Resolution is Tough.

Conflict  is inevitable and to conflict resolution is not an easy task.  As a matter of fact, I believe conflict resolution is getting tougher, but resolving conflict is what can actually help us get to the truth of a situation, can be a stimulus for creativity and can make teams stronger…but only if handled correctly.

Today, I want to leave you with 3 very quick tools which can help you with conflict resolution (believe me…the fear of conflict rests with most people…no one likes conflict and most people don’t want to address it).

Conflict Resolution Tips:

1.  Understand why the conflict exists in the first place.  The reasons may include:

  • A person  feels misunderstood
  • Something was said that was hurtful, and a person is harboring a grudge
  • Two or more people have different values and/or beliefs about an issue
  • A person is just unhappy and always wants to “stir the pot”
  • Needs are not being met
  • Differing communication styles (there are four basic communication styles:  Dominance, Inspirational, Conscientious and Supportive) and these styles can butt heads constantly if not recognized
  • Different career and life goals
  • Low company morale
  • People are simply going in very opposite directions in life
  • Skewed perceptions
  • A “don’t ask, don’t complain, don’t open your mouth” policy
  • Confusion about an issue
  • Your company has a “pecking order” and everyone knows it
  • Playing favorites

Once you understand the root of the conflict, you can then begin to address it on an individual basis.

2.  Let your team know that you are going to be meeting with everyone individually for a discussion on how to make your team stronger. Sit down one on one with each team member and say something like this:

“John…you know, I have noticed that our team seems to keep butting heads on a lot of issues and we seem to get nowhere.  We leave meetings angry and without any clear direction, and I am here to take responsibility for this constant state of conflict we are living with.  While I encourage conflict and debate, it seems that we are ending up with a lot of hurt feelings and people are starting to shut down.  I want to talk to you about how you view conflict resolution and see where you stand or how you are feeling about all.  Tell me a bit about your needs, goals and desires.  I would like to know what you feel is working for you and about anything you feel you need that you are not getting on the team.”  (You are digging here to find out what may be the hot spot for this person).

As you talk with each team member, make a few notes.  Your goal here is to look for a repeating pattern of a need not being met, skewed perceptions, differing personality styles or values which are not aligned.

3.  Once you have completed each one on one private conversation, meet with your team to discuss your view of the most common thread which came out of your individual conversations.  WITH YOUR TEAM, come up with a solution on how to go about the conflict resolution process using just one issue which will have the biggest impact on improving the team conflict.  This may be a plan to address the emotional intelligence of the team or communication styles.   I do want to repeat…you don’t want to stop conflict and debate altogether…they will help your team be more creative and growth oriented.   You do, however, want to improve any type of conflict which may be stopping your team from moving forward.

After the above three steps, where do you go with conflict resolution?

After step 3, it may be important for your team to engage in some type of team leadership coaching to work on moving the action forward.  If  conflict resolution something your team is interested in pursuing, please feel free to contact me for more information.