Communication and Conflict – Are You Open To Other People’s Ideas And Views?

By May 3, 2019May 6th, 2019No Comments

Unicorns don’t exist. Neither do organisations where teams work in complete harmony and agreement 24/7. Even the best workplaces deal with conflicts and the clash of different ideas.

In our experience working with leaders and teams, we’ve found a breakdown in communication somewhere along the line is the root cause of most conflicts. Mixed messages, vague requests, lack of follow through and poor listening skills all lead to tension.

Not respecting other people’s ideas and views is also a problem in the workplace; collaboration and innovation stalls when team members can’t share their own perspectives. We’ve put together tips for leaders and teams to successfully navigate workplace conflict.

Seek first to understand

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”
Steven Covey – The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

Disagreements surface when people don’t take the time to try and understand each other’s point of view or respect that they are entitled to one. When we’re too busy trying to get our own point across we don’t listen properly.

It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything, or anything, your teammate says but respectfully acknowledge their position and seek to understand where they’re coming from. This is a much better starting point for resolving the issue than shouting them down or disregarding their opinion.

Handled right, differing ideas and opinions can lead to out of the box problem solving and innovation.

Tip: Give your colleague your full attention while they express their point of view. Don’t interrupt, practice active listening – avoid planning out a response in your mind while they’re still speaking. Once they’ve shared their idea or point of view, take a breath, gather your thoughts and present yours.

Find some common ground

You might disagree with your colleague’s suggestion of a new sales approach to reach monthly targets but search for some common ground. Showing your willingness to find something to agree on helps strengthen relationships that might otherwise be strained if one party feels all their ideas are continually shut down.

Tip: While you think the sales tactics themselves won’t hit the monthly targets, maybe you liked your colleague’s idea on the types of incentives to offer the sales team. Let them know.

Check your emotions

We’ve all been in ‘those’ situations before. How we handle our negative emotions at work is often seen as a measure of our professionalism. Small workplace conflicts can blow up quickly when one or both parties respond emotionally. Show your colleagues the same respect you’d like to be shown and if they’re rude and emotional, you don’t need to respond in the same way. Stay gracious and assertive.

Tip: Always clarify the situation before reacting, it could be a case of a simple misunderstanding. This is especially important when it comes to email, tones and intents can easily be misread. Don’t fire off an angry email reply immediately, wait a few hours or even a day before responding and try to seek clarification in person or with a phone call.

Communication, conflict and idea sharing for leaders

Leaders set the tone

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to set the tone for your team and handle conflict resolutions in the most productive way. If you aren’t respectful, calm and honest with your team during times of conflict you can’t expect them to show these behaviours in return. Set the example to show it is possible to turn conflicting opinions into a positive outcome, or at least some positive aspects rather than all negative!

Tip: Most employees don’t believe they’ll get everything they ask for, in many cases, they just want to be heard. Do your best to listen, remove emotion and get through to the real root of the problem, you may find some common ground. Sometimes it’s a win/win outcome, but sometimes it’s not as simple as that if compromising isn’t really the best way forward for the organisation.

Address conflict quickly and openly

Avoidance isn’t part of a healthy conflict resolution plan. Deal with uncomfortable issues or tension as quickly as possible to avoid negativity, resentment, and frustration seeping in on a permanent basis. This kind of toxicity can quickly embed itself into a workplace culture.

Tip: Schedule a time to talk together. If the conflict is between a few different individuals, give each the chance to have their say on what they feel the other needs to hear. Ask them to share any solutions or ideas they have to solve the issue. Ask each for their feedback on the other’s proposal and don’t let one party hijack the entire discussion.

Provide a forum your team to share

Create an opportunity for everyone to share their ideas, whether it be on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. It’s a great opportunity to hear from your team members who may not usually speak up and let them know their voice is being heard. Give each person his or her time to take the floor and encourage discussion around each idea. Keep more dominant employees in check by not allowing them to steamroll discussions.

Tip: These forums will be more beneficial with structure rather than an idea free-for-all. Set a theme for the discussion, for example, brainstorming ways to enhance the client on-boarding experience and keep discussions on track. You can even choose 3-4 themes and have the team vote on the one they’d like to discuss.

Ease up your vice-like grip on control

Have you ever admitting to being a control freak, but with a hint of pride in your voice? You feel you have such incredibly high standards that you just can’t trust others to uphold them.

A controlling mindset can damage professional relationships and your work will actually suffer in the long run. Rigid thinking closes you off to new ideas, you’ll miss valuable insights from your team members on how to improve current processes and efficiency.

Tip: Delegate one smaller project or task to a team member and let them take full control. Take a deep breath and let them run with it – see what ideas they come up with and how they manage the project. Make a conscious effort to be open-minded rather than critical about the direction they take.

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
Ronald Reagan

When handled right, occasional conflict is a good thing. It can foster an innovative and empowered team who aren’t afraid to collaborate, speak their minds and put new ideas into the ring.

Communication and Conflict will equip your team with practical strategies and tools to increase communication and manage conflict in the workplace. The result? Increased self-awareness, collaboration, and higher performance!

As follow-up, participants apply what they learn and leaders coach using the coaching cards provided, offering feedback to improve both team and individual performances. In due course, participants discuss what has changed, improvements or continued ‘roadblocks’ with their leader.

Follow up

(period defined by the business, with reflection and discussion)

A 5-hour workshop where we look at how leaders can work with teams on motivating, coaching and setting standards in effective ways.


Participants see how important communication and collaboration is when getting results. They learn how to work with each other to build positive store culture and design effective systems and processes.

Workshop 3

(5 hours, face to face)

As part of pre-work, each participant completes a survey that highlights what aspects of customer experience they’re comfortable with and what needs work. This influences the design of the program and its priority areas.


(30 minutes, online)

A 5-hour workshop where we work through the fundamentals of an outstanding customer experience from end-to-end.


Participants learn more about their ‘ideal customers’ and the typical journeys they go through, and how to design experiences that work for these customers.

Workshop 1

(5 hours, face to face)

A 5-hour workshop where we align the values, behaviours and actions required for an outstanding customer experience.


Participants see how to embed the values and behaviours of their business in practical ways – to improve customer interactions and promote long-term loyalty.

Workshop 2

(5 hours, face to face)

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