Attitude is King in Conflict Resolution

By Peter Barron Stark

Conflict is a natural part of life and can’t always be avoided. Sometime conflict has positive outcomes, other times conflict has negative outcomes. When it comes to conflict, a lot depends on your attitude.

An unwillingness to resolve conflict creates tension, frustration, worry, anxiety and usually, a lack of positive, constructive communication. But what is most important to managers to recognize is that unresolved conflict undermines your ability to effectively lead. When you fail to resolve a conflict on your team, the individuals involved in the conflict, as well as others who observe the conflict, lose respect for you. It’s almost impossible to be recognized as the leader when you aren’t respected.

So why are so many managers hesitant to lean into conflict?

Some simple answers include:

– They hope the conflict will resolve itself
– They are fearful that confronting the problem will make the situation worse
– They have had bad experiences when discussing the topic with the person in the past
– They don’t think the conflict is that big of a deal
– They don’t ask about topics or situations that they’d prefer not to know about
– They feel they can still accomplish their goals and meet their needs by working around the conflict.

When I looked at our updated Leadership Development Assessment (LDA) Benchmark data recently, I was excited to see that one of the top three differentiators of the Best of the Best leaders (top 25 percent) is the ability to solve problems and resolve conflict.

Although the Best of the Best leaders are higher on nearly every question in the benchmarks, they are approximately 10 percent higher in the category of conflict and problem resolution.

The Best of the Best Leaders are clearly doing something differently to gain a rating from their bosses, peers and direct reports that is 10 percentage points higher than everyone else in the Benchmark. From my work with them I’ve learned nine things these leaders do differently when it comes to resolving conflict:

Know the importance of attitude: Your attitude and beliefs will have a huge impact on your ability to resolve the conflict. Having confidence in yourself and believing that by leaning into the conflict you can improve the situation will benefit you as a leader. However, the opposite is also true. Lacking confidence in your abilities or having a negative attitude or vision, will most likely create a negative outcome.

Assume positive intent: Most times, when you develop a negative attitude about someone’s role in a conflict, you assume the other individual has negative intent. Great leaders assume the best about people. Leaning into the conflict with the belief that the other individuals involved also want to resolve the conflict, do the right things and improve the relationship, will help you open up dialogue to resolve the conflict.

Don’t complain…take action: An old sage once told me, “I don’t complain anymore.” He went on to add, “I figured out that 80 percent of the people I complain to don’t actually care about my problems. And, the other 20 percent are actually happy that I’m more miserable than they are.” Complaining is almost always talking about things which you believe you do not control. Focusing your mind on what you do control, believing you have the ability to positively impact the future, and then taking the necessary actions to resolve conflicts will make you the type of leader people want to follow.

Quickly apologize: When you apologize, you take the target off your back. A great opening line to any conflict you are involved in is: “I’m really sorry about what happened. It turned into a conflict and that was not my goal. For my part in creating this situation, I’m sorry.” Unfortunately, some people’s egos are so gargantuan that they impede their ability to apologize for their role in a conflict. When you lack the ability to apologize, I guarantee that this will motivate some people to keep shooting at that target on your back by pointing out your deficiencies that contributed to the conflict.

Be quicker to forgive: Forgiveness is a great healer in letting go of anger. Did you realize that when you’re angry, others have control over you? We all know someone who is angry at their parents, their spouse, their kids, their employees, or their boss and use that anger as their reason for where they are in life. It’s simple but hard for many people to do. When you forgive, and then take action, you regain control over your life.

Determine the benefits: A question every leader needs to ask when faced with conflict is, “What are the benefits of letting the conflict linger?” What are the benefits to you as the leader; to the individuals involved in the conflict; to the team; to the customers and to the organization? Almost always, you’ll find that there are few, if any, benefits to allowing the conflict to continue. Most of the time, resolving the conflict brings many benefits to everyone involved.

Listen: Most conflict is created by people opening their mouths. Use your ears more than your mouth. Asking questions and having a genuine desire to better understand your counterpart’s perspective will help you in resolving conflict. Since people like you so much better when you listen, many conflicts are resolved quickly when people communicate, listen, and truly understand.

Stay calm: It’s easy to stay calm when you have a positive attitude, a positive vision, and a belief in yourself that you have the skills to get the conflict resolved.

Take action now: Most conflicts don’t improve by ignoring them. As a manager who has a desire to be a great leader, people are looking to you with hope to make tomorrow even better than things were today. To improve the team and work environment, conflict needs to be resolved. Put the above listed tips into practice to develop the right attitude and resolve a conflict today.

Peter Barron Stark Companies is a nationally recognized management consulting company that specializes in employee engagement surveys, executive coaching, and leadership and employee training. For more information, please visit

Seven Abilities of Successful People


by Utpal Vaishnav

In the process of continuous learning, we sometime think that if we have all the abilities that successful people have, we too will be successful.

More often than not, that’s not the case.

You don’t need ALL the abilities that successful people have. Key to your success would be to find out what abilities you don’t need and focus on a few, foundational abilities that will drive you toward success.

Now, you don’t need abilities to repair your AC or program complex business software or draw an engineering plan.

Agreed, these are useful abilities to have, but they are not the ones that you can’t live without.

There are other abilities that you should aim to master though. Given the speed at which the world grows, such abilities become not only helpful, but also imperative.

Here are seven abilities of successful people that have a wide application and are often not consciously thought and practiced. Here they go:

1. Upbeat thinking

Upbeat Thinking requires thinking and acting ahead of forestalled events; this means using prudence.

Upbeat thinking is one of the most powerful differentiator that an individual can have. Many of us look at upbeat thinkers as creative people who instigate actions ahead of time.

Most important thing about upbeat thinking is that it is a choice that proactive people make. Here’s a good read for you to think upbeat and stay positive.

2. See the big picture

Sure, everyone can look at the big picture but after the goal is achieved. The distinguishing ability that only a few people have is to look at the big picture before the goal is achieved.

Ability to see the big picture expands our perceptions and guides our actions accordingly.

Good thing about seeing the big picture is this – you can see as big as your imagination is.

Still not convinced? Here’s a good read from Ali Luke.

3. Prioritize

Sure, you have upbeat thinking, ability to see the big picture and you can execute well too but if you execute wrong things then you won’t get desired results.

Prioritization is the ability to focus your energies on the right thing so that you get the right results. This is what is called putting first things first and ability to differentiate important things from urgent.

Thinking you need to get better in your prioritization skills? Read Stephen Covey’s First Things First book and get better at this ability.

4. Be fair

It’s easy to think about only our benefit and organize our actions around that. The problem with it is that it never works. People want to relate with someone who is at least fair at a minimum. Imagine when you have established yourself as a fair person, people would admire you, like to connect with you and participate in the projects you take on. Your fairness would ensure that their interests would also be taken care of when they serve your interests.

5. Listening

We have been given two ears and one mouth. Still we speak more than we listen. Successful people have aligned themselves with the law of nature. They listen twice as much as they speak. To listen effectively, you have to learn to normalize their internal noise levels and be open to the present moment. Sure, listening is an art and here’s a good old post that affirms that.

6. Collaborate

Collaboration is working with each other to do a task. It’s a team effort where two or more people work together to realize the shared goals. If you don’t collaborate, you limit your success to your own abilities. But if you collaborate, you have unlimited power. You just have to master one skill – to establish and inspire people toward a shared goal. That’s the power of collaboration. To collaborate with others, you have to master the ability to inspire the masses of people. Here’s a good read on that.

7. Retrospect

It is one of the key success enabler in one’s journey of continuous learning. It provides you with an opportunity to pause and reflect on your actions, their outcomes and your defaults that trigger those actions. It is a must have yet not often practiced ability. Learning is easy; unlearning is difficult. Ability to retrospect is very foundational when it comes to unlearning and your ability to learn, unlearn and relearn is foundational to your success.

Have you observed any other abilities that you have seen in successful people? Feel free to share it in the comments.

About the Author: Utpal Vaishnav is a lifelong learner, entrepreneur and author. He is the founder of Self Help Zen where he shares pragmatic tips for effective living. Follow him on twitter @utpalvaishnav.

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Hour of Power


By Joy Bing Fleming, MBA

The “Hour of Power” consists of 20 minutes of meditating or just relaxing, 20 minutes of exercising, and 20 minutes of reading. If you don’t have an hour in your day, then you can shorten it to 30 minutes.

Mind Relaxation. You can use the relaxation time to simply clear your mind, calm down, and get rid of any stresses that you may be feeling. Sometimes, you may become so calm that you fall asleep. That’s okay. Right before you start the “hour of power,” just remember to set your alarm for 20 minutes, so you’ll wake back up. You can also use the relaxation time to figure out what you’re passionate about and to clarify your purpose. You can ask yourself:

– If I absolutely knew that I would not fail, what would I really like to do?
– If money was not an issue at all, what would I like to achieve?
– What do I desire most?
– What really makes me happy?
– What does success mean to me?
– When do I feel the happiest and the most alive?
– What are the top 10 things that I really want in my life?

Exercise. Everyone needs some form of exercise in their lives. You can walk or run in the neighborhood, watch a workout video, walk the dog, etc.

Reading. Reading everyday is very important. You should read for 20 minutes. If you don’t have 20 minutes, simply reading 5 or 10 minutes a day will begin to change your life. Reading positive and inspirational books will improve your self-confidence and help you become an even better person. Building up your self-confidence will help you overcome your fears. Your thoughts will change. You will become a positive thinker. Once you’re focused on positive events, thoughts, and occurrences, you’ll begin to notice all of the wonderful small things that you missed before (like how amazing it is to see the sunshine outside, getting all green traffic lights on your way to work, getting an up front parking space, etc).

Books concerning your life’s purpose are helpful to read. Books about whatever suits you and whatever brings joy and happiness into your life are also important to read. Reading improves self-esteem, creates awareness, as well as empowers one with unlimited knowledge. The “Hour of Power” has helped me a great deal.

In school, I had to read many books, and I didn’t find reading enjoyable. So, when I finished college, I decided that I didn’t want to read anymore books. Therefore, reading everyday was a challenge for me. However, when I became interested in learning more about how to figure out my purpose, that made it more enjoyable. Also, today you can purchase many books on CD. Once I focused on reading or listening to a CD just 20 minutes a day, it became alot easier.