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An organisation without conflict does not exist.

“Conflict is as natural for people as it is for animals. As long as territory, food, mates, and in the case of humans, money, is limited, there’s conflict.”   Steve Tobak / CBS Television: Money Watch 2012

People experience conflict all day long – conflicts over, resources, promotions, interaction, interdependence, and recognition to name a few. The vast majority of disputes are under the radar, and the more senior managers are, the less they know. This translates into lost productivity, in the form of wasted time, overlooked opportunities, loss of investment in skilled employees degraded decision quality, absenteeism, lowered motivation, theft, sabotage, vandalism,  restructuring, health costs and more.

Most of us have never been taught to deal with conflict effectively. Mismanaged, avoided, or hidden conflict can be destructive without even being noticed. It is not cost effective for managers or supervisors to micromanage daily disputes, yet they are responsible for optimal productivity which is hampered by conflict within their teams.

Conflict in the first instance should always be dealt with at the lowest level by the people involved. Besides being the cheapest method, it is vastly more effective because, with proper training and within the right environment, workers will collaborate to invent solutions that satisfy their interests and needs – a far better outcome than solutions imposed by a senior/ third party.

“How many times over the years have you witnessed otherwise savvy professionals self-destruct because they wouldn’t engage out of a fear of conflict? …conflict rarely resolves itself – in fact, conflict normally escalates if not dealt with proactively and properly.”    Forbes Magazine 2012

When people have the skills to confront problems and the prospects of improved work situations, they will gradually stop sweeping things under the rug. It just a matter of learning how to have a productive conversation after being immersed in anger, hurt, or humiliation.

As MTI’s Southern African representative and accredited trainer, I have proudly selected Dan Dana’s Brave Discussions Course because it addresses everyday situations that block optimum interdependence between workers in a proven one day workshop that has been taught for decades to thousands of people around the world, and is widely considered to be the best there is. 


Training CoverLettersMM SIGNoff

Mervyn Malamed

PGDip (Dispute Dispute Settlement)

Stage 1:  A conversation about a conversation

  1. The approach to the other party
  2. The issue statement
  • The request
  1. The sale [if needed]
  2. The cardinal rules
  3. The time and place

S1    Video Stage One     FIRST                   The Request for a Meeting

S2    Video Stage One     SECOND            No Walkaways & No Power Plays – 1 of 3

S3    Video Stage One     THIRD                  Arrange the Time and Place

Checklist:   Remove landmines

Stage 2: Talking it out

  1. Setting the tone
  2. Defining the problem
  • Venting
  1. Dialogue
  2. Exploring solutions

S4    Video Stage Two    FIRST        Expressing Appreciation & Optimism

S5    Video Stage Two    SECOND             No Walkaways & No Power Plays – 2 of 3

S6    Video Stage Two    THIRD       Open-Ended Questions to Stimulate Venting – 1 of 2

S7    Video Stage Two    FOURTH    Open-Ended Questions to Stimulate Venting – 2 of 2

S8    Video Stage Two    FIFTH        Support Conciliatory Gestures – 1 of 2

S9    Video Stage Two    SIXTH                    Support Conciliatory Gestures – 2 of 2

S10  Video Stage Two    SEVENTH Interests Defined

S11  Video Stage Two    EIGHTH    Offer Conciliatory Gestures & Take Risks

S12  Video Stage Two    NINTH       No Walkaways no Power Plays – 3 of 3

S13  Video Stage Two    TENTH       Keep Talking [no sound]

Stage 3: The Deal

Working out an implementation plan


What might happen if we don’t agree?

These are the three ATNAs:


alternative to a negotiated



alternative to a negotiated agreement.

MLATNA Most likely

alternative to a negotiated agreement.

S14  Video Stage Three FIRST         The Deal



Learning objectives  

  1. Assess workplace conflicts to determine whether a conflict conversation is appropriate based on the:
  1. Level of the seriousness of the conflict.
  2. The degree of interdependence between disputants.
  3. The balance of power and risk of power abuse.
  4. Characteristics of the counterpart.
  5. Identify and eliminate reflexive behaviours that obstruct joint problem-solving.
  6. Identify a retaliatory cycle of engagement.
  7. Learn how to interrupt the retaliatory cycle to make joint problem-solving dialogue possible.
  8. Initiate dialogue.
  9. Talk in terms that promote cooperation and minimise defensiveness.
  10. Persuade a reluctant co-worker to participate in dialogue.
  11. Get agreement on time, place, environment etc. to prevent failure of dialogue.
  12. Draw focus to the issue to be solved.
  13. Produce a shift in attitude from me-against-you to us-against-the-problem.
  14. Recognize and identify conciliatory gestures that naturally occur during arguments.
  15. Recognize and identify the psychological forces that produce consensus.
  16. Form agreements that meet the criteria needed to prevent recurrence of conflict.


  1. The financial cost of conflict will decline.
  2. The frequency of conflicts will decline.
  3. Conflicts will be resolved without the involvement of a supervisor or manager.
  4. Employee satisfaction with the workplace will increase.

The Methodology

STEP 1: Find a time to talk
Why 95% of communication problems stay unresolved — and how to reverse this ratio.

STEP 2: Plan the context
Where and when to talk [a conversation about a conversation].

STEP 3: Talk it out
Getting from me-against-you to us-against-the-problem.

STEP 4: Make a deal
The criteria for making agreements that work.

The Benefits  

  1. Take control of conflicts, rather than be controlled by them.
  2. Negotiate solutions rather than fight.
  3. Handle difficult people and avoid being seen as a difficult person.
  4. Remove a key obstacle to the success of self-directed work team efforts.
  5. Change the organisational culture to make healthy communication the norm.

Comments from people that have taken this course. 

This info is useful both professionally and personally.

Daniel Rodgers, Production Supervisor, Sony 

Very concise, very simple to follow…

Mohamed Mustafa Marican, Executive Director, Jamiyah Singapore 

I was able to take something from it that is practical and easily usable.
Elaine Williams, Eligibility Supervisor, Department of Social Services 

It can be used practically on my job.

Mary Ellen Mufich, Project Manager, CNA Insurance

The fact that everyone participated and took each seriously was important. Giving their own interpretations of how they would try and recognize and handle conflicts.
John V. Flores, Sergeant, US Army Pacific Global Command and Control System 

Most valuable: The ability to apply the lessons learned to all aspects of my life – work and home.
Randall G. Fisher, Senior Team Lead, Fidelity

It is good to learn a logical and systematic way to resolve conflicts.
Y. Kurosu, HR Senior Specialist, Human Resources, Motorola