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Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. Human Capital Conference. Pete Swanson Carr Swanson & Randolph, LLC March 14, 2005. Learning Objectives. Identify how style impacts behaviors, Learn approaches for dealing with divergent styles.

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Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management

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Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management

Human Capital Conference

Pete Swanson

Carr Swanson & Randolph, LLC

March 14, 2005

Learning Objectives

Identify how style impacts behaviors,

Learn approaches for dealing with divergent styles

When dealing with difficult behaviors, what is your role as a supervisor?

  • Traffic cop

  • Teacher

  • Counselor

  • Disciplinarian

  • Friend

  • Mentor

  • ??








TheThink-They-Know-It- All






10 Classic Problem Types

Adapted from Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, Dr. Rick Brinkman & Dr. Rick Kirschner

From the Norm to the Extreme…

Task Focus




People Focus

From Conflict to Cooperation

Essential Skills

  • Neutralizing

    • Any action that neutralizes negative behavior in order to meet them where they are and move to common ground

  • Redirecting

    • Any behavior that changes the direction of an interaction. Neutralizing precedes redirecting.


  • Neutralize with body and facial expressions

  • Neutralize vocally with volume and speed

  • Don’t Engage -- Probe!

  • Listen to understand -- it is not “mine or theirs”

    • Empathize

    • Backtrack

    • Clarify

    • Summarize what you’ve heard

    • Confirm to make sure you got it right


  • Identify positive intent

    • Their point is valid

    • Apply “Positive Intent” to…

      • Getting the job done

      • Getting the job done right

      • Getting along with others

      • Getting appreciation

Speak to be Understood

  • Assertion vs. Aggression -- monitor your tone of voice

  • State your intention

  • Tactfully control interruptions

  • Tell your truth

    • Use “I” language

    • Be specific about the problem behavior (impact)

    • Help them understand how their behavior is self defeating

    • Suggest new behaviors or options

  • Stay flexible --explore options -- question before defending

  • Reframe instead of rebut

Get What You Project and Expect

  • Raise your expectations of people to help them raise their expectations of themselves.

  • Acknowledge their effort

  • Be tough on bad behavior

  • Expect good behavior

  • Assume the best and give the benefit of the doubt

  • Appreciate constructive criticism

    • Don’t be defensive

    • Verbally appreciate the person providing the criticism

    • Redirect if necessary - focus on activities, not persons

Take responsibility -- know when it happens

Tell people what is happening with you -- they will help

Slow down!

Acknowledge the negative chatter in your head -- it is not about you!

Check your, and others, assumptions

Emotionally Detach! Don’t identify with the situation or take it as an attack

Choices for Defensive Behavior

Contact information

Pete Swanson

[email protected]


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