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According to research studies, some 30-40% of supervisors’ and managers’ daily activities are devoted to dealing with conflicts in the workplace. Typical workplace conflicts are often fueled by staff with varied personalities, different work styles and approaches, cliques and rumors, competition rather than collaboration, feelings of being unappreciated or ignored, and a history of unresolved tension.

This 2-day experiential workshop offers managers specific tools to utilize in conflict situations. Focusing on universal concepts of conflict resolution theory and practice, participants will learn strategies to minimize tense situations and to maximize a constructive and efficient collaborative workplace. The workshop includes materials and exercises in which to practice these strategies, and develop effective communication skills that support these concepts.

While some workplace situation are unavoidable, most conflicts are ignored or addressed punitively, often having the resulting effect of perpetuating resentment or escalating tensions. A manager dealing with conflict can experience a crisis of confidence and often ends up second-guessing himself or herself, regardless of how a situation has been handled. If conflict is not directed and controlled, it can have damaging effects in the workplace, stifling the growth of departments and deflating employee morale.

Topics covered include:

Attitudes & Styles of Conflict Management

While we cannot get rid of conflict, we might ask ourselves if it always something we truly want to avoid. We will explore our attitudes about conflict as well as explore five typical responses to conflict in the workplace. These styles are based on the classic Thomas-Kilmann workplace survey analysis. Instead of framing each style as good or bad, we will explore both the advantages and disadvantages to all five styles. We will learn why certain people defer to their favorite style in conflict, and learn to better appreciate what they are hoping to achieve. Through this analysis, we become better informed as to what strategies we might utilize with certain people. Of course, we will also examine our own tendencies and styles, allowing us to re-think our approach to interacting while in conflict.

Attack/defend modalities: the strategy of de-escalation

Do some folks just have special talents? What does an aikido expert know that might help me during a conflict? Are there some universal concepts that might help me approach those in conflict? We will explore some very basic and long-lived theories that experts apply to conflict resolution. These are simple concepts that all “neutrals” or problem-solvers apply when diffusing conflict. We will discuss and then practice the related skills used to apply these concepts.

Underlying motivation of conflicts

We often understand that what we are arguing about is not really what the argument is about! Combining both conflict resolution theory and psychology, we will learn how to break down conflicts so that underlying and often “silent” issues are revealed. We understand what it means to be “positional,” but often get trapped by reacting with our own position (or argument). This is often known as “building our case.” It works for lawyers, but not for the rest of us in workplace settings. What is beneath these positions? We will work in groups identifying Positions, and then the underlying interests, needs, and concerns associated in conflicts.

Applying specific communication skills & language

Understanding theories and concepts is vital, but what about the actual “real-time” application in the moment of conflict? This workshop will offer specific communication skills necessary to apply these theories and concepts so that we actually can see, hear, and feel the powerful results of language in defusing and resolving conflict. The list of skills include reframing (replacing typical conflict language with constructive language), reflecting (acknowledging the tone or feeling of the discussion), summarizing (capturing the detailed content of what is being discussed), validation(the power of acknowledgment).

Using power effectively: Setting limits

Anyone who has ever been a parent understands the balance between allowing someone to grow into their role, and at the same time setting limits and boundaries. In a similar way, managers have the challenge of encouraging their employees to maximize their potential, and yet to not step beyond their role and responsibilities. This workshop will provide a simple yet effective process when collaborating is not enough.

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