Archive for the ‘conflict management’ Category

The Biggest Conflict Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

by Pamela Jett, CSP

Yelling cartoon

Has this ever happened to you? You are in the midst of a crucial conversation and the other person becomes very emotional or intense. They might even begin to yell or behave in a hostile fashion. Most people will the get drawn into a discussion of this inappropriate behavior.  The conversation may then continue along the lines of :

  • “Stop yelling at me.”
  • “I’m not yelling!”
  • “Yes, you are!”
  • “Well, you don’t listen!

The conversation, which may originally have been about a crucial business or personal issue, has now morphed into a “conversation about how you are having the conversation.”  This is known as meta-commuication, communication about communication.  And, while it has it’s place, it is a poor choice to meta-communicate right in the middle of conflict and confrontation.

The next time someone engages in an (inappropriate) emotional outburst during conflict, resist the temptation to start talking about how they are communicating and stay focused on the core issue as much as possible. This doesn’t mean to let others bully or to continue to be mean, rude and nasty. However, if you can use other assertive techniques first (like the feel, felt, found technique) instead of calling out their behavior, you stand a greater chance of reaching resolution on the core issue.

Avoid the biggest conflict mistake you perhaps didn’t know you were making. Avoid meta-communication in the midst of conflict and stick to the issue at hand.

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#1 Way to Deal With Difficult People

Java Printingby Pamela Jett, CSP

Difficult people are everywhere. There are exploders, snipers, steamrollers, and chronic complainers in our personal lives and in our professional lives. While it might be possible in our personal lives to avoid difficult people to a degree, it is virtually impossible to do so at work.

To make things even more challenging, we can’t make a difficult person not be difficult. What is helpful is to understand the #1 reason difficult people are difficult.

Difficult people are difficult because it is working for them.

They are getting some sort of reward or payoff with their difficult behavior. Perhaps it is attention. Perhaps it is a sense of power of control. Perhaps their reward is that they get their way.

While we can’t make them not be difficult, we can train the difficult person that while their difficult behavior might be working with others, it does not work with us. Ask yourself “what is the reward they are seeking?” And, then decide if you are willing to give it. Sometimes it is a simple as deciding not to commiserate with a chronic complainer or to not explode back (or give them control) when an exploder explodes.

For more techniques to deal with difficult people, check out the up-coming webinar “Snipers, Steamrollers, and Chronic Complainers” at


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Trigger Cooperation – Not Defensiveness

steaming madby Pamela Jett, CSP

Conflict is inevitable, in even the very best workplaces and relationships. Some people, however, seem to engage in conflict and confrontation with more confidence and with less escalation. Here are are few tips to help you do the same.


Quit taking it personally. Remember, it is typically not about you (even when others try to make it sound like it is.) When other people behave in combative and hostile ways it is typically a reflection of their fears and insecurities.

Respond as Opposed to React

Professionals choose their behavior based on their values and objectives as opposed to simply reacting to the behaviors of others.

Be an Exceptional Listener

In particular, listen for the unspoken fear in the other person’s communication. Often, the difficult or inappropriate behaviors of others is based in fear. Understanding that can enhance our ability to respond effectively.

Words Matter

Choose your words wisely. Some words can trigger defensiveness and others cooperation. Be intentional in your word choice.

For more tools and techniques to help you manage conflict and confrontation with more confidence, visit

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