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1. Focus on the problem, not on personalities.

State what the problem is:(Do not mention names)

2. Build on areas of agreement. Most groups have at least some positions or goals that are not mutually exclusive.

What do you agree on?

3. Attempt to achieve consensus.

What can be done that everyone agrees on. Will this make each person that is involved happy? Does this decision benefit all the members?

4. Avoid provoking further conflict.

Does this plan create future problems? Is anyone really against this idea? Does the plan seem easy to manage?

5. Do not over react to the comments of others. Extreme statements on either side tend to destroy consensus and produce a “boomerang effect.”

Has anyone made such comments? Discuss how such remarks destroy the credibility of the person or the group.

6. Consider compromise. This is often the best way to go from a win-lose to a win-win situation.

If the group or persons still are not in COMPLETE agreement—what can be done where all can come together with a solution that all can compromise. Who is willing to give up what?  

In Addition, check out the DISTORTED THINKING section of the Critical Thinking session. Many conflicts arise from distorted thinking. - Conflict Management Training

Corporate Coach Group provides flexible corporate training methods, tailored to each individual's needs, including conflict management training.


The sales manager was complaining to his secretary about one of his men: "Harry has such a bad memory; it's a wonder he remembers to breathe.

I asked him to pick up a newspaper on his way back from lunch, but I'm not even sure he'll remember his way back to the office."

Just then, Harry burst in the door, brimming with excitement and exclaimed: "Guess what, boss! At lunch, I ran into old man Jones who hasn't given us an order in seven years. Before he left, I talked him into a multi-million-dollar contract!"

The sales manager sighed and looked at his secretary, "What did I tell you? He forgot the newspaper!" (Strand)

Here is a perfect example of a vertical conflict. Vertical conflict is when higher and lower groups of authority are at odds with one another. This is very true in the above case. Since the management cannot see beyond its own expectations, the lower worker becomes discouraged and flustered. (Daft, 1998)

Approaches to conflict

Many times the resolution can actually become a burden. As a person works hard, however, there are doubts and debates, and often one’s solutions create more problems. (Daft, 1998)

McAlpine (1998) notes that all successful men rise to power through the aid of others, therefore, when conflicts arise, how they are handled presently will also affect the future.

Justice and compassion must be balanced. A leader must be capable of original thought. Many times when there is conflict, a new or different resolution is the best answer.

With a disciplined plan of action and the right techniques, both groups focus and will not have misplaced secondary concerns and conflicts.

Dana (2001) calls these alternative courses of action “both-gain.”

A both-gain assumption allows a non-adversarial search for common ground to serve the common good.

This is step four of Dana’s approach to resolving conflict.

The step is simply to make a deal, nevertheless, it should be a “win-win” deal, where both parties benefit.

Daft, R. L. (1998). Organization theory and design. (6 ed.) Cincinnati, OH: Southwestern.

Dana, D. (2001). Conflict resolution. New York: McGraw-Hill.

McAlpine, A. (1998). The new Machiavelli: the art of politics in business. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Strand, R. (1993). Moments for Graduates. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press.

Demonstrated Skills and Behaviors:

The first precept of the Conflict Management Rule Sheet, which is to focus on the problem, not on personalities, is perhaps the most important part of this training.

Most people cannot choose with whom they will always work, and as the members of the groups rely on each other with respect to their conduct and interactions within other areas, it is of paramount importance that each member of the organization feels safe, wanted, and needed in the work group or educational setting.

Therefore, the highest respect should be afforded to each member, and management/educators/parents need to tailor their style of leadership to find an assertive way to manage conflict. 


Borisoff, D. & Victor, D. A. (1989). Conflict management: a communication skills approach. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

The Conflict Management Rule Sheet along with role playing and working together in cooperative groups helps the employee/supervisor (parent/child) to be more reflective about their relationships with each other and the conflicts that come from such relationships.

This is another site that has a good video:


The next time you find yourself trying to plot a course through a conflict with a colleague, an employee, a partner-company or customer … even a family member, consider the following:

To begin with, it is crucial to recognize that conflict is the opposite of agreement or understanding.

Understanding occurs when two individuals with different views are able to listen to each other civilly and identify with the other person’s position, enough to let go of their own distorted thinking.

When people or businesses do this, they become creative, rather than self-justifying. This is when a more efficient paradigm can be established that focuses more on the resolution (and the “cure”) than what either individual started with at the moment of conflict.

Therefore, understanding or agreement is not simply about finding the middle ground.

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