• February 21, 2023

Why conflict coaching improves workplace culture and productivity

conflict coaching helps you become a better people manager

Among its many advantages, conflict coaching makes sense as a pre-step to a more formal process of dispute resolution, such as mediation, arbitration or at worst, court. With the help of a conflict coach, you get to exercise your brain muscle to develop the needed strength and capability to understand and manage conflict – both on a personal and professional level.

All businesses experience conflict in the workplace, but not all businesses handle it well

Whether it’s with a colleague, a manager, a supplier or even a client – conflict in the workplace is a daily occurrence in all places of business, everywhere. It’s a reality that will continue to surface in many different forms. If conflicts – small or large – are not managed, they fester into major problems that can impact everything from workplace culture, productivity to brand reputation – all of which ultimately impacts profit. Engaging a conflict coach can help people develop a critically important skillset to manage even the most fraught conflict scenarios and evolve individual and team leadership traits. Even better, it’s a skillset that can be used in parenting, relationships and negotiations in almost any aspect of life.

A structured process to understand and manage conflict in the workplace

Conflict coaching follows a structured process that involves clear and pragmatic steps to help people involved in conflict evolve their perspectives, attitudes and behaviours to work towards their desired outcome. Essentially, conflict coaching takes you from where you are, to where you want to be in terms of understanding, assessing and handling conflict. The skills learned via coaching also help people acting as a neutral third party, mediate or manage conflict between colleagues, direct reports or any other people in an organisation whose grievances have festered into a dispute. The framework offered by coaching will help people manage conflict more effectively – on a personal front and in assisting others involved in conflict.  A conflict management skillset is an essential tool for anyone aspiring to become managers of people – as it’s a key leadership trait in the workplace.

 Conflict coaching brings a deeper understanding to workplace disputes

Differences of opinion are essential to a successful workplace. Without people feeling comfortable challenging each other in a productive way, progress and innovation almost never happens. However, knowing how to manage conflict is the difference between a pragmatic resolution being reached and an ongoing, embittering dispute taking hold in an organisation. Conflict coaching enables people to informally create opportunities to improve relationships, bring transparency and clarity to situations; accept outcomes and reconcile differences. Without the understanding and skills do this, conflict may stay internalised to a point where it’s no longer possible or healthy for a person to keep those feelings contained, leading to an internal trigger and externalised reaction that escalates the conflict to a new level – whether that’s an explosive argument or avoidant behaviour where one person will no longer engage with another.

Confront conflict before it becomes a major dispute impacting the entire teams, business units and organisations

Often in large organisations, when conflict arises between co-workers or within a team, the immediate solution is to call HR and let them handle it. Yes, this is one solution – and in some conflict scenarios, it may be the right one. However, once HR is involved, self-determination and agency for the individuals involved is likely diluted, further adding to stress for people involved.

Conflict coaching takes a different approach. Skills learned in conflict coaching empower individuals to become self-aware of their own conflict habits and analyse conflict when it occurs, to shift perspective from a reactionary ‘fight or flight’ to a more rational, thinking and solution-focussed position.

In small businesses, often the business owner wears multiple hats, including being both judge and jury around conflict disputes. Conflict coaching helps small business owners enhance the ‘people skills’ needed to manage their own conflicts with staff as well as conflicts that arise between co-workers who often work in close proximity to each other. Staff churn is costly – from a recruitment and training perspective and can damage the brand and reputation of large and small organisations.

And finally, conflict coaching makes us better, more intelligent people

Accepting the reality of conflict in the workplace is a great first step because aiming for zero conflict in the workplace is an unachievable goal. Training yourself to manage conflict – your own or as a neutral-party helping others – can have incredibly positive outcomes for organisations. A respect of different viewpoints, an innovative approach to problem solving, solid teamwork and positive staff morale follow when people feel they are being seen and heard. And, significantly, the understanding, skills and tools acquired through conflict coaching goes far beyond the workplace into all aspects of life.

Author: Kris Darmody

Lawyer, Mediator, Conciliator, Conflict Coach + Family Dispute Practitioner, Fresh Start Mediation


More to explore
Why a parenting alliance is the gold standard for separated families
  • March 22, 2022

A solid co-parenting alliance leads to less hassle and less drama for the parents and improved wellbeing for the kids helping them continue a stable and positive developmental journey despite a massive change to their small world.

Preparing for Family Mediation
  • August 6, 2021
  • 4:00 pm

It’s affordable, informal and collaborative – almost the opposite of family court. Yet the idea of going into family mediation with an ex can trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, and sometimes, fear. Considered preparation can go some way to alleviating the intensity of these feelings.

How you communicate can play a starring role in workplace conflict
  • March 22, 2022

If not resolved, problematic communication can become a weapon of mass destruction on the inside and outside of the business.

When talking over the fence fails: Neighbourhood disputes
  • October 12, 2021
  • 10:57 am

Back in the day, when Leviticus coined the Biblical cliché, ‘Love thy Neighbour’, heavy metal played on mega speakers was not a problem. Neither were shared driveways, trumpet lessons, retaining walls, jack hammers or dogs who defecate on other people’s property.

What is a parenting course and how does it help?
  • January 27, 2022

Enrolling in a parenting course does not mean you are a lousy parent. It means that you are willing to develop your parenting skills to meet the specific needs of your children after separation