What Would Shawn Do: Planning Ahead for a Difficult Conversation

handling conflict


I just can’t seem to get along with one of my co-workers. We’ve had several disagreements over the past year. Now she just complains to the boss instead of trying to work things out. What can I do to resolve this uncomfortable relationship?


This is a great time to work on your communication skills!

Take this three-step approach:

1.       Think about your past disagreements.

What was the cause? How did you contribute to the conflict? What factors contributed to the confrontation? What did you say that seemed to get a positive response? What did you say that seemed to make things worse?

2.       Plan your conversation.

Think about an appropriate time and place. Find an opening that will help your co-worker feel like you are willing to listen to their side of the issue. Be ready to admit your part in the problem. Be open to hearing what your co-worker is saying, even repeating their thoughts back to them to be sure you understand.

3.       Visualize your conversation.

Practice what you’ll say and how your co-worker might respond. What do you think will be a positive outcome? If you can’t make any headway, what will you do next?

Thinking through all of your past arguments, what caused them, what you contributed, what you could do better, and visualizing what will happen when you confront your co-worker can only help you be more aware and less reactive.

Good luck!

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