Learn to turn uncomfortable encounters into productive ones

We’ve all been there, trying to get the team that can’t go more than a week without some type of uproar back on track. Or how about the two senior managers who just don’t get along and butt heads at every turn? And they’re the ones responsible for the next big rollout!

Collaboration. Teamwork. Working effectively across functions, up-and-down the organizational ladder. These are all essential—let’s say critical—for business success. But as it happens, we all bring our own set of priorities, preferences, and values with us when we show up at work.

Sometimes, our personal work styles come in direct conflict with the styles of others. And that’s when conflicts arise. While workplace conflict may be inevitable, it doesn’t have to be destructive or lead to complete dysfunction.

Rather, understanding and learning to appreciate the core differences each individual brings to the workplace is what allows everyone to adapt—to curb our innate conflict behaviors, effectively manage our responses to conflict, and build both better working relationships and healthier workplaces. 

So, here are a few key steps you’ll want to consider to help get you started:

  • Through coaching or team activities, or employing a valid assessment tool, look for ways to help individuals understand their own natural tendencies when it comes to dealing with conflict. Increased awareness of our own conflict behaviors is a critical first step in responding to tough situations in a more positive way.
  • Learning more about others and knowing how they will likely respond when engaged in conflict goes a long way in helping team members, colleagues, and others flex their own style to more effectively move the conversation toward a more productive outcome.
  • Make sure that your teams have the tools and communication strategies they need to harness the power of workplace conflict to improve workplace results and relationships


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At Integris, Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict is our tool-of-choice to help individuals and teams transform uncomfortable encounters into stronger relationships. Built upon the foundation of the dynamic Everything DiSC® model, this assessment tool helps individuals dig deep into their own destructive and productive tendencies when confronted with difficult situations. Participants learn how different DiSC® styles respond differently to conflict, and strategies to reduce highly-emotional interactions that harm working relationships.

For example, consider your assertive, results-focused team leader. When confronted with conflict, her Everything DiSC® D (for Dominance) style suggests that she can become controlling, defensive, and overly critical of others. Now imagine this D-style leader working through a thorny issue with her S (for Steadiness) style counterpart. Patiently seeking harmony and approval, his fears of letting people down and facing aggression cause him to shut down and let unresolved issues simmer beneath the surface when facing situations of conflict. Seems like an implosion waiting to happen, right? But it doesn’t have to be.

The use of an evidence-based assessment such as Everything DiSC Productive Conflict can be an invaluable addition to your coaching/teambuilding toolkit. Check out this short video and learn more about how this powerful tool can help your learners build more trusting and productive relationships—especially when times are tough and things get tense.

Watch the video now


Brett Cooper

Brett is the visionary President of Integris Performance Advisors, a professional development firm he co-founded to expand the existence of healthy organizations and great places to work. By creatively bringing together concepts from The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (by Patrick Lencioni), The Leadership Challenge (by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner), and Lean Six Sigma, Brett and his team have influenced thousands of people in government, non-profits and corporate America to work together in more productive, more effective and more human ways. Outside of his role at Integris, Brett dedicates time to serving others in need. He is a volunteer coordinator for the East Bay Stand Down and Stand Down on the Delta, two non-profits serving the needs of San Francisco’s homeless Veteran population. He is also board member and financial sponsor for Partners in Sustainable Learning, whose mission is to bring early childhood education to marginalized communities in the developing world (current projects are underway in Nepal).