I love guest post hunting. And sometimes, if I am lucky, someone will drop in a request to collaborate on a post. This time I am lucky to stumble upon a wonderful website with similar niche and passion that MiddleMe has. Sean is also a newly joined reader who wrote the following article.

Please do go to his website for more well written pieces and add him as I did if you love what he wrote.

Today, for the first time this year, I was back in the training room doing, what some say I do best, and that is, the delivery of training to local government elected members.

Today’s topic for delivery – Conflict Resolution.

We know about emotional intelligence and how its application can make our relationships better and even improve other areas of our life. However, it is not easy to apply without first understanding what drives us towards, or what indeed causes, conflict.

Waiting for my students to arrive today: the WALGA foyer outside Training Room A today


In order to understand what causes conflict between one person and another, we need to identify the factors that lead to an “interpersonal breakdown.”

When I posed this question to my students today, we identified and discussed the following causes of such a breakdown:

  • A perceived breach of faith, trust or confidentiality. When this occurs, it is perhaps the most difficult type of conflict to come back from;
  • Unresolved disagreement that has escalated to the emotional level. Once this happens, the facts become irrelevant. It will colour many issues regarding you for many years to come;
  • Miscommunication leading to unclear expectations. In other words, the recipient of your message has not heard you and has made an assumption regarding what the outcomes will be;
  • Personality clashes are, a primary source of conflict. We are all different – outgoing, quiet, serious, intuitive, detailed, emotional, logical, concerned for people, concerned for concepts, flexible, structured and so on;
  • Differences in acquired values. As with personality clashes, we are all brought up in different environments;
  • Underlying stress and tension. A person may be having a bad day for a whole range of reasons – they may have just run over the cat (sadly, I have seen this happen);
  • Ego problems. When this person is in the room, no prisoners are taken;
  • Any combination of the above.


The key to coping with most types of conflict is to address the problem early. In other words, bring the issue out into the open. This is particularly important when clarifying any misunderstandings.

To clear the air, tell the other person what you want and how you feel about something without blaming them or demanding an outcome. Men often do not mention how they are feeling. Women often are not good at making clear statements about how they want a situation to be.

If you are experiencing any type of personality clash, find out the facts, not just the stories you and another person are convinced is the case (shame on you social media). Rather than avoiding those who make your life difficult, find opportunities to work together. In this situation, use your organisation’s values as opposed to your own, to guide discussions. You may be rather surprised by the end result. This is what I refer to as being professional.

Stress related situations escalate when we engage in negative thinking. Be calm and understand that the person reacting negatively to you may in fact be stressed out. What we are seeing here is typically a people who often puts themselves under unnecessary pressure due to: how they were raised, or because of a significant life changing event that bubbles up in their thinking, or because they have compromised their values.

Ego driven conflict is the most difficult to deal with because its master or mistress espouses a “win lose” approach rather than one that is “win win.” Rather than let the negative behaviour continue, look at how you can banish such actions through removing the person from the source of conflict. When all else fails, I am sure you have heard the term “perhaps, we should agree to disagree.”


At the end of the day, there is only one person who can resolve the conflict you find yourself in, and that is you. The other person won’t take the initiative. This means you will need to take a deep breath and stay in the now. Remember to be respectful, use active listening and establish the facts. Once you have understood their respective point of view, come up with a solution together 😉

Please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences…

If you enjoyed my carefully curated guest post above, you will love these too:
Guest Post: Sometimes YOU are a Jerk and you do need to Change! by Kevin Hellriegel
Guest Post: MASTERS? MBA? PHD? TAKE MY CHALLENGE! by #iblogstats
Guest Post: How To Make Your Dreams Come True by Mabel Kwong

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LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/kallytay

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  1. In my new job – and in previous jobs too – I’ve been surprised by the change of atmosphere that can be effected by the absence of a single team member. And when I say ‘change’ I mean ‘God, it’s just so much better when that [deleted] isn’t around’.
    The negativity doesn’t usually rise to the level that requires conflict resolution. It’s just a cloud that hangs over the team – the work gets done much the same whether that person is present or not. But without them, everyone breathes a little easier.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. You raise an interesting point, and I empathise with you because dealing with this “person” can be very difficult at all levels. In many instances, they are left to their own devices, because it’s “easier” to do this. However, the real solution, again, if those in authority are prepared to do so, is early intervention. Being seen as credible when handling this matter is also extremely important.

      Anyway, some of my thoughts regarding such a person are (I hope they bring you some peace of mind):

      An effective way to deal with such a person is when the team first sets its rules. I have found on many occasions that once the team leader takes the team through setting the rules at the start of assembling the new team or when redefining the team, difficult characters will either fall into line or move on (on their own accord). However, I acknowledge this takes quite a bit of preparation to pull this off and even more so post team implementation if you assist that person find a role somewhere else.

      I have also had the situation a number of times where the “difficult person,” is in fact, not difficult at all, but that is the perception. With one particular incident, I had this person’s immediate manager and executive manager say team leader X needs to be dealt with for a whole range of reasons. I paused to think about what I was being told by two employees I regarded quite highly. My response (and I shouldn’t have had to spell this out, but I did) was that this was not my experience of this person. They needed to take the time to listen to this person’s grievances and address them properly. Not only that, they needed to conduct a fair performance appraisal as well. The end result: a very grateful team leader who took his teams to new heights (in fact their level of achieving outcomes was beyond outstanding).

      And, I have had failures too, but you get there in the end.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Such a lovely post!
    How often we fail to realize that the we have the responsibility of resolving our conflicts.
    You really dissected the topic like it’s what you know how to do best.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Great article and to the point. The following stood out to me:

    “To clear the air, tell the other person what you want and how you feel about something without blaming them or demanding an outcome. Men often do not mention how they are feeling. Women often are not good at making clear statements about how they want a situation to be.”

    In my experience men do not mention anything unless they get angry, and women usually expect the other person to know what they feel and think by the way they react or act. I think we must learn to “communicate with each other better!” Blessings, Elfriede

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I definitely agree that addressing conflict quickly is a good idea, though I know it’s also hard to practice. It’s so tempting to wait and hope that things just fade away on their own, yet the longer an unacknowledged conflict simmers, the more chance it has of turning bitter.

    Liked by 4 people

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