Dealing with Conflict

If you work with people – you will spend a lot of your time working through ‘people problems’ or conflict of some sort. I recently came across a great 4 step process that apparently is used by family counselors. 

These are the steps as recommended by DVM Training Room author Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM – and certainly bear repeating in my blog – they may seem too simplistic at first glance; but I think if done in a timely manner, they could be very effective. Step One – Confront the Behaviour Call the parties into your office or another private area. (If whole departments are in conflict, speak with the supervisors). Let them know, very clearly, how unhappy you are with their behaviours and that you expect they will turn things around. 

Step Two – Talk it Out Remind them that you expect them to listen to each other and work out a solution. Start by asking one of the parties to explain his/her issues. The other party must listen and cannot interrupt. Following this – reverse the roles.

The benefits of this approach are that it is very difficult to misrepresent things when an outside party (you) is listening. This technique forces the two parties to listen to each other’s perspective. 

Step Three – Hold Employees Accountable Once the two have heard each other out, tell them that you have a lot of confidence in them. Tell them that you expect them to come up with a plan to work well together from this point on. Give them 2 days and set an appointment for them to tell you how they plan to turn things around.

Step Four – Follow up and Follow through Be sure to keep the initial meeting (in Step 3). After that, you will need to hold short weekly check-in’s to ask each employee, in front of the other, how things are going. This ensures that they remain accountable for the new behaviour and it relieves you of the role of playing policeman.

Gradually phase out the appointments as the new, positive behaviour takes hold. During this process make sure to compliment the employees on their hard work and the good example they are setting for the rest of the staff. This rewards and reinforces the new behaviour. On a broader scale, it signals to everyone that this is the kind of cooperative culture you expect.

Fairness is important – and you must remain neutral throughout the process. Give the process time to work. Things don’t typically turn around over night; but it is amazing how often people can solve their own problems if given the chance to do so.


About hrscoops

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5 Responses to Dealing with Conflict

  1. Really excellent advice,

    Not everyone thinks of how they would deal with conflict until they`re handling it personally. But it’s definitely something that requires strategic action.

    • kellie auld says:

      Unfortunately, too many people try to avoid conflict…but I truly believe if you deal with it sooner, rather than later; your chance of successfully seeing the other person’s perspective increases.


  2. karyngavzer says:

    Thank you for referencing my steps for conflict resolution on – there’s lots more articles and videos there that I’ve done for them on compliance, marketing and more for veterinary practices. I also do private consults with veterinarians on practice marketing and management –

  3. Marcie says:

    GREAT Blogs on assisting those to communicate effectively in the ‘workplace’! Boundaries will always play a HUGE part in the area of conflict management. It is an essential tool to have in ones toolbox when negotiating or determining relationships between the employer and the employee. If you want a good read…pick up the book written by Anne Katherine, M.A.- ‘BOUNDARIES-Where you end and I begin’. It teaches on the importance of personal boundaries and how to recognize when those boundaries have been violated. I use this book not only in my every day life but also in my coaching and mentoring business: WISE Women in Strength Everywhere. Keep up the good work! Your knowledge and website- Simply Communicating, is refreshing! We need more wisdom in the area of HR from dedicated people like you…..Take a bow!

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