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How to deal with Conflict in the Workplace - pictures show corporate environment where conflict is occurring.


It’s inevitable that whenever you gather multiple people in one place for an extended period, conflict will arise.  Every individual has different strategies, personal history, values, beliefs, and filters that information passes through which changes how they perceive the information they receive.  So, when those differences in perception carry a lot of emotion, how do you deal with conflict in the workplace?

At Brain Potential, we empower leaders with the skills they need to be able to easily identify where their own behaviours stem from but also to be able to help others do the same whilst minimising conflict.  The following details the use of micro and meta-skills to deal with conflict in the workplace.


Micro-skills to deal with conflict in the workplace

The term “micro-skills” refers to competencies for communicating effectively with others.  They are a set of verbal and behavioural responses that facilitate more effective communication and great understanding between people.  These skills are often referred to as “active listening skills”.

There are eight fundamental skills that are referred to as the Basic Listen Sequence.

1. Attending Behaviour – This is how you demonstrate you are listening attentively. It may include both verbal and non-verbal behaviours and may differ between cultures.  Some examples may include nodding your head, making agreement noises, open body language etc.  Providing your full attention when listening is important to allow the speaker to feel that he/she is properly heard.

2. Questioning – Asking open questions such as those that being with what, how, or could, may encourage the other person to speak more enabling you to obtain more information and clarify the meaning behind their interpretation of a situation. It will also show the person you are speaking to that you are genuinely seeking to understand.

3. Responding – This is how you respond to what is being said. Paraphrasing and summarising what you’ve just heard will confirm if you’ve understood what you’ve heard correctly and may uncover further information.

4. Noting and reflecting – Taking a moment to reflect and take note on everything that has been said will allow you to gather your thoughts and feelings about it as well as identify the thoughts and feelings the other person has shared with you.

5. Observation – Sharing your observations of the situation and what you’ve noticed in a non-judgemental way can bring the other person’s attention to their own behaviours rather than putting the “blame” on someone or something else.

6. Confrontation – This is not to say you should become adversarial to the other person but rather to present them with a different viewpoint they may not have considered which would require them to address something within themselves.

7. Focusing – Helping the other person to change focus from small details to a bigger picture in which all parties want the same thing or have the same intention may allow that person to change the way they view the situation and may even change the state they are in.

8. Influencing – Now that the other person can see that everyone has the same intention or purpose, you may be able to influence them to reconsider their own viewpoint and allow all parties to work together for the common goal.


Meta-skills to deal with conflict in the workplace

Meta-skills are process skills that enable us to connect at a deeper level with our colleagues by hearing the subtext (non-conscious aspects) of the person’s story and experience.

Meta-skills are about thinking about your thinking.

Ideally you want to be observing the person you are speaking with and yourself at the same time in order to deal with conflict in the workplace.

Things to ask yourself are:

  • What am I thinking?
  • What am I feeling?
  • What am I doing?
  • Why am I doing it?
  • What is happening here and now?

When you begin to raise that awareness within yourself, you may start to identify patterns that have reoccurred throughout different areas and times of your life.  Perhaps your behaviour stems not from the events themselves but something that happened to you when you were very young and the behaviour that made sense to you as a child has become an unconscious response as an adult.  The same may be true for the people you interact with daily.


Video highlighting how Micro and Meta-skills can be used to deal with conflict in the workplace

This video is a little role play between me and one of our fabulous coaches, Christine Phillips, showing how conflict in the workplace may affect one person differently than others and how you can use micro and meta-skills can be used. 

See which micro and meta-skills you can identify and make mental notes as to where you may be able to apply them in your own workplace.


When we utilise neuroscience principles within a position of leadership, team members feel more understood, and we can begin to uncover the root causes and patterns behind the behaviours that we see.  This ultimately fosters an environment for positive change and allows team members to grow and thrive which inevitably results in a more cohesive and productive team.

If you’d like to know more about how you can utilise neuroscience to create amazing results within your business, book a call with me to discuss how Brain Potential can help.

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