Turn Enemies Into Allies: Part One

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How do I manage conflict between employees? What should I do when coworkers don’t get along? Should I intervene? Bring them together? Work individually? What do I say?

In 2014, Ki Moments began a series of posts titled “The Manager as Mediator”, designed to help managers and leaders deal with conflict between coworkers. When two valued employees can’t get along, their team and the workplace suffer, and the posts offered tools to help resolve the conflict.

That series of posts developed and became a book, which you probably know because you’re a reader of Ki Moments. Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace became available for pre-sale last month on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound, and will be released in paperback May 1.

In the next four posts, I plan to “early release” bits and pieces of Turn Enemies Into Allies, so you can preview the concepts, tools, and practices and decide if they might be useful in your workplace — although the conflict and communication skills I bring to organizations and relate in the book are just as applicable at the kitchen table, in the locker room, and on visits with the in-laws.

A Belief That Conflict Can Be a Gift

I begin, as I do in the book, with the most foundational piece, which is managing “you” first. As manager, supervisor, leader, or anyone “stuck in the middle” as the sub-title reads, your first skill is a meta-skill — an overarching attitude shift that conflict can be a gift. More than anything else, your ability to maintain a positive mindset will encourage the success of the intervention.

For example, while it is a conflict — the situation between your two employees is also an opportunity:

  • For the relationship to change for the better.
  • For the parties to learn valuable work and life skills.
  • To see their conflict partner’s more positive aspects.
  • To step into a leadership role as they model conflict competency in the organization.

Your belief that the conflict can be a gift in disguise will have an ongoing positive affect on them and on the process.

This chapter, called “Working On Yourself Alone” offers tools and practices to:

  • Foster a positive mindset.
  • Maximize centered presence, personal power, and clarity of purpose.
  • Notice attitudes that are detrimental to the process.
  • Begin the intervention in a way that minimizes fear and maximizes psychological safety.

Step-By-Step Coaching Intervention

I just finished proofing what the publisher calls the “author read”, my first opportunity to see what Turn Enemies Into Allies will look like in book form. It was fun. I like the book, and I think the reader will, too.

It’s a step-by-step coaching intervention and guide for managers, HR professionals, school administrators, and other leaders to help conflicting employees return to a professional, effective working relationship, while simultaneously changing their lives for the better. It’s practical and written like all my posts, in language and concepts easy to understand and integrate into your conflict and communication skills repertoire. It reinforces things you already know and offers confidence you can do what I do — help people get back to center.

You can read the first couple of chapters on my website in the book excerpt the publisher gave me. Please let me know what you think!

Good ki!

Judy Ringer is the author of Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace and Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict.

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