Just Talk! Resolving relationship clashes

That’s how most problems are resolved – just by talking to each other!  It may be a company problem or a friendship fall out, a family squabble or something more serious but it still takes two people to talk it through.  Relationships are one to one, even within a group or a team.

If two people no longer get along for some reason, it can disrupt the group.  “I won’t go if she won’t go” or at work “I can’t work with him any longer!”   Even people having time off on sick leave to avoid sitting with or being harassed by their colleagues!  If this is manager to staff it can be even more tricky – respect issues, morale problems, performance and productivity losses, not to mention the self-esteem, confidence and avoidance behaviours that will come from personal clashes!

And often, the dispute is unknown to one party, whilst the other harbours a grudge they haven’t shared or may not be aware of buttons pushed ‘deep down’ in the unconscious mind that create the emotions leading to the’ fight’!

When there is a threat – real or imaged, sabre tooth tiger or stress from work, worry from home and snappy comments taken wrongly – our human (animal) response is fight or flight, sometimes freeze where nothing much happens at all for us (pretend I’m not here …)

So just a chat can help, sharing your feelings and explaining what button was pressed or at least the irritation or upset, and then you can work together to find a solution.

It may be hat your manager has to step in to mediate, or a professional coach can help resolve both parties issues – demanding and needy vs helpless and ‘yes man’ there are underlying historical beliefs at work under the surface, deep in the psyche!  Bring it out and air your views; share your opinions but do it honestly and professionally, or less personally.

“I feel ….when you ….because…” is a proven way to share your feelings and views, explaining what is happening for you when someone upsets you on a regular basis or as a one off that has led to unhappy people causing chaos!

For example:

“I feel harassed when she comes in with her demanding way, to ask if I can help her out AGAIN!  I feel pressured because I can’t help, with my own work to do and a family at home to get back to at 5 pm!”

“She can help but she just won’t!  When I ask nicely she just ignores me or walks away and I get angry, frustrated, because you (boss) expect me to do all this on my own!”

Just Talk!  

Mediator:  I can see that you are struggling with the pressure so we can have a chat about her asking you to help when you have your own workload to manage whilst you are in work.

Employee 1: “Thanks that would be great if you could, because I just can’t face her barrage of reasons why I should be able to help her out all the time”

Mediator: “Let’s have a chat together to resolve this because maybe there are two sides to this, and you aren’t quite seeing it the same way”

Employee 2: “I just can’t do it and she isn’t as busy as me!  I need her help – she has done this before so she can teach me!”


Let each person speak and share what their perception is of the situation, and encourage the other person to listen with an open mind and a different perspective.   Each is right in their own way, their own perspective and needs to be met, but each has to consider the other’s needs in light of their own needs and capacity too.

Sometimes, people just don’t realise what they are asking – all they see is what’s in front of them, not the mental worries, the list of things to remember, the tiredness they feel or the problems they have on their mind as well as managing their daily workload that is the only concern of the company.  However, the manager needs to feel concerned about each person’s problems and anxieties because it will always impact on the team – taking the boss’s time from others and from their work, impact on their outcomes and productivity for their team, answering to their line managers and the customers or other stakeholders, and keeping the rest of the team flowing – answering queries, supervisions, meeting schedules and reports to prep and more!

Scenario 1: 

(1) That Employee 1 is introverted, shy or may even be a little depressed because their mother is ill and with three young children to care for it’s hard enough to fit in time to visit as well as the daily housekeeping and family management, after and before work!

Employee 2 is young, inexperienced in life and relationships, with people – unaware of their needs in managing a family, only seeing that she will ‘fail’ to achieve when she wants that promotion next year and this isn’t helping at all!  Her boss won’t be impressed and everyone will thing the team is useless – including her!

Manager: With a  12 strong team and a line manager to support in his latest project where he needs the advice and input from the manager this month, he is up against it already!  Then he has two people bickering, sulking and the work still isn’t getting done in a timely manner!   He is pressured and pressuring others to get it done – when perhaps they can’t actually do it without more training, without his support (and time he hasn’t got to give) and he knows that employee 1 has struggled on for years, but always works hard and does the work 9- 5 pm.

“Employee 2 has potential and they are working hard but struggling with some aspects of the role, especially this high return project that his boss has stakes in and wants all the plugs pulled out!   What can I do to help?  Do I have time? Skills and patience myself or might I end up snapping too?!”

COSTS: Time, Money, Lost revenue if project fails, recruitment issues if people leave or have to be let go, sickness absence if one or two people are unable to cope with the pressure of work + personalities!   Potentially £0000’s!

Scenario 2:  All the above + a coach coming in, short term, to help them resolve their individual performance issues, the underlying pressures for each person and identifying the buttons being pushed that create this tension!

  1. Stress management tips and tools
  2. Talking time and space to air concerns and look at options
  3. Mediate between the two combatants – sharing insights, exploring reasons, finding solutions and helping them to communicate more effectively – and see each perspective, including the boss, his boss and the team as a whole!
  4. Help each person to better manage their workload, find the areas to develop and steps to re-training and learning, and helping the company achieve their aims in this project this month …and beyond with tools, insights, guidance, time and space to open up, and tools and techniques that can be used in future!

COST: 8 sessions @ £500 + a few well as calls by phone to the people, email exercises to and from employees, some of which can be done in break times or at home perhaps.  Total cost £6-700 for tree people’s coaching service.

SAVINGS: (Project income + Recruitment/sickness cover for 2-3 people) – less the cost of coaching = £10,000 – £700 = £9,300 for example!

So is it worth it to Just Talk?