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Seeing conflict at work as an opportunity to problem-solve

Rubik's cube against blue background

In a recent article in Psychology Today, author Lauren Florko gives practical advice on how to use a problem-solving mindset to respond to workplace conflict. The first step is knowing who you are and how you react to stress.  Do you have a fight, fright, or freeze response?  And how does that differ from your usual communication style?  For example, if you’re usually direct in how you communicate, in times of stress or conflict, do you retreat from your style and become indirect?  This may be a fright or freeze response.  Or do you cross the lines of direct and become curt or blunt?  This may be a fight response.  Knowing yourself is the key.  If you understand your instincts, you can better assess whether they’re leading you to the right way to approach the situation. 

Coaching for Growth


“We need to talk.” 

For many of us, these words provoke an immediate reaction.  We may feel our bodies tense, our stomachs drop, our heart rates increase.  That’s because these words rarely precede a pleasant conversation.  Usually they mean there’s an issue.


Maintaining strong working relationships can sometimes feel like trying to dance with a partner when you haven’t worked out the steps ahead of time. And when you fall out of rhythm with each other, you may reach a conclusion that this dancing thing was a bad idea. 

Art of Persuasion


Persuasion and influence are key ingredients to building trusted working relationships as well as disrupting potential unproductive conflicts. In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, talks about persuading the unpersuadable. He shares tips and strategies for influencing in four common scenarios: overconfidence, stubbornness, narcissism, and disagreeableness.


Humans are wired to tell stories.  It’s how we learn and problem-solve.  How we adapt, how we reinforce social rules, and how we create community.  And also how we get things wrong.  This is particularly true when it comes to our conflict stories. 

Difficult Conversations: The "Identity Conversation" (#4 of 4)


Conversations can be difficult because the underlying situation being discussed threatens our identity, or sense of self, in some way. We have a view of who we are, and we react strongly when we believe our identity has been attacked. Identity conversations can be painful because they force us to consider possible discrepancies between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us.

Difficult Conversations: Changing the "Feelings Conversation" (#3 of 4)

Feelings Conversation

As Stone, Patton and Heen wrote in Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most, conversations can be difficult for us to have for a variety of reasons. Often the difficulty springs from the fact that the matter being discussed provokes deep or intense feelings we do not know how to deal with.

Difficult Conversations: Changing the "What Happened?" Conversation (#2 of 4)

Difficult Conversations

When we have a “What Happened” conversation we are usually operating with an assumption that we know all the facts that led to the problem. We may make assumptions about the other individual’s motives or actions. We may assign blame. Or we may want a definitive declaration from that the other person that he or she is in the wrong.

Difficult Conversations: The "What Happened?" Conversation (#1 of 4)

Difficult Conversations

All of us have been involved in difficult conversations. Difficult conversations are often conversations where emotions are high, or where we feel vulnerable or unheard. There are many definitions of a difficult conversation, but the bottom line is that these are conversations which we dread having and find unpleasant.

Emotional Intelligence: moving through conflict moments with strategy and purpose

In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman shared the continuing importance of emotional intelligence at work and what we often get wrong about what emotional intelligence means.