Femsy and Mansy have an unresolved conflict. As a consequence work tension between them increased.


This is visible for their direct environment.


A great leader:

  • Is credible and trusted by bosses, peers and subordinates;
  • Builds effective and cooperative relationships;
  • Has confidence in her own abilities and is not afraid to challenge or push back;
  • Reads situations quickly;
  • Listens for what is felt as well as said.

How to best handle the situation:

“In business, when two people always agree, one of them is irrelevant” – William Wrigley.

Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. Nobody can be expected to agree on everything all the time. Say what must be said in a way that is not damaging the relationship. Make conflict resolution the priority rather than winning or being right. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship should always be the first priority. Pride does not belong at work!

Suggestions for managing and resolving conflict:

  • If you have a problem explain your thinking and ask the other party to explain his/her thinking. Focus only on the issue, not on the person. Separate facts from opinions and assumptions;
  • Take the time to really define the problem: describe the problem and its impact, avoid direct blaming remarks, make the problem concrete and specific;
  • Listen for what is felt as well as said. Let the other person finish, don’t interrupt, ask clarifying questions, acknowledge the other person’s feelings and show respect;
  • Use contrasting technique if applicable: “I don’t want to appear that I haven’t heard what you said, because I have. I do want to express a different way to look at the situation”;
  • Let the person know when what you are about to say is difficult: “this is a bit difficult for me to say, but I do want to let you know how I see the situation”;
  • If you get emotional, pause and pull yourself together;
  • Focus on the common goals, priorities and problems on both sides. Find wins on both sides, give in on little points, show respect;
  • Keep the open conflict points as concrete and specific as possible (the more abstract it gets, the more unmanageable it is);
  • If you cannot agree on a solution on all conflict points, agree on a procedure to move forward;
  • Know when to let go of something: agree to disagree, disengage and move on;
  • If needed, take the situation to the upper level for further calibration or decision taking.

Other learning suggestions:

  • Leaders are readers. A couple of suggestions:
    • “Power Talk” by Sarah Myers McGinty;
    • “The Confidence Code” by Katy Key and Clare Shipman;
    • “Difficult Conversations” by Douglas Stone;
    • “Hardball for Women” by Pat Heim & Susan Golant.
  • Form a sparring relationship with a supportive colleague or external party and practice having “difficult conversations” with him/her. Get feedback on what you do well and areas where you need to improve;
  • Attend a Conflict Resolution Training Program;


Do you know what you don’t like about yourself in a conflict situation?

We often don’t like in others what we don’t want to see in ourselves. Write down five traits that really bug you when you see them in others. Be aware that these traits are your “hot buttons”.


Read more about Co-Colours and Co-Colours Team.


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