Coaching To Help You Manage Conflict Constructively

“When a person is attacked their instinct is to defend and protect themselves: they want to re-establish control. “

This instinct is somtimes related to a specific event and at other times it is developed over years.  The purpose of their behaviour is to defend their value systems and territory. Some people come to the rescue whilst others often become victims in this processes.

The norm ‘that difficult areas be avoided as they just caused unpleasantness’ is reinforced.

It is then only in crises that we are forced to re-consider our position and drop our defences. The irrational assumption is “that things will never change”. Performance gradually goes down hill.


So teams and organisations avoid conflict:: this is reinforced by managers who continually focus on setting targets and mapping out territories rather than encouraging an honest dialogue about risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies.

Our approach is to help people explore conflict and manage it constructively using our bespoke toolset.


This involves several steps

  • Recognise and agree the presenting problem
  • Maintain a sense of enquiry
  • Use external feedback
  • Recognise and acknowledge continuing frustrations
  • Manage the interaction
  • Follow up and learn from the conflict

This is a rich source of information that your teams can use to help them improve.

The Defensive Cycle

We need to become more aware of when we become trapped in the defensive cycle and develop new communication strategies to deal with these situations.

If managers become trapped in their defensive reasoning, they will develop a game of justification, play their own script, contrive evidence and play out the drama. This is costly for everyone.

What managers need to do is try and understand the problem. It is easy to develop this sense of enquiry when everything is going well. However it is much harder in the face of persistent problems and difficulties when we tend to consistently either blame others or ourselves. It is helpful at this stage to understand feelings and avoid expressing themselves in the wrong way ( Labels, Commands, Accusations Sarcasm). Once we become aware of our feelings we need to discuss them in a constructive way.

Maintaining A Sense Of Enquiry:

When we continue to hear things which we do not like, we need to ignore the temptation to become defensive, and along with it an instinct to fall back on our logic. This creates a vicious cycle when neither party is listening to the other but concentrating on their own arguments to support their own point of view. This is reinforced by a second cycle when we leave the argument and go away feeling judged and criticised: we often feel frustrated and a sense of hopelessness.

We need to distinguish between what we think and what we actually do. We can then explore the issues, understand the dynamics of the relationship and try to find shard solutions.

Arrow up v2

Individuals under attack will normally provide distorted information, e.g. “this was twice the time we originally quoted,” “she never attends the project meetings,” “he never told me:” 

The way out of this trap is to find out what really happened from the observable facts. This cannot be achieved by auditing of procedures, surveys or the monitoring of deliverables; these will simply reinforce the picture as it is presented. Managers must learn to develop their own sense of social enquiry and the communication skills necessary to make this work.


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We can help you manage this effectively through coaching, teambuilding or development workshops.  We have 20 years experience in this area.

Call Us On 01202 421229 To Explore How You Can Manage Conflict Constructively


HELP WITH Preparation

Gathering the facts, planning the approach according to the individual, clarifing the disciplinary actions available, notifying the time place and reason for the interview

Once we have recognised this we need to discuss it with the individual without making judgements. This involves preparation and the sensitive handling of the discussion.

Conducting the meeting

Establish an accurate and clear understanding of the problems, stating the reasons for the interview giving details of behaviour which have caused concern, state thing standards which you expect, agreeing the action


Checking that proposed action has been taken, reviewing if the desired results have been achieved, dealing withresulting feelings and deciding on further interview or formal discussion


  1. Conflict is important because it helps us understand each other better and form closer relationships-the alternative is to slowly drift apart!
  2. Constructive management of differences preserves the talent pool and builds the diversity of teams
  3. Team issues are identified, dealt with constructively and used to facilitate change
  4. Resources are not wasted on costly disputes and litigation