BrowBag Recap: Conflict Resolution for the Professional Woman

Conflict Resolution for the Professional Woman

Speaker: Lindi Frost

Where a group of people works together, very likely there is difference in opinions that may lead to conflict situations. As women working in STEM, it is not uncommon to find ourselves in such situations at workplace. This month, our guest speaker Lindi Frost, addressed the impact of gender in conflict situations. As a Human Resources and Labour Relations expert, Lindi has worked extensively in the area of employment/labour law, contract negotiations and conflict resolution for over 25 years. During the course of her career, she has led numerous negotiations on behalf of the University of British Columbia.

Lindi started the session by describing what conflict looks like and pointed out that conflict can lead to either positive or negative results depending on how it is handled. When it is addressed in productive ways, it strengthens relationships and acts as catalyst for solution to a problem. But often people tend to see it as negative and tend to avoid the situation instead of addressing it in a constructive way. This may ultimately cause resentment, frustration and negative feelings that result in unproductive behaviors such as gossiping. In order to address it properly, people need to understand what conflict is and how they can handle such situations. They need to learn the tools to best navigate conflict situations that help to build cognitive, emotional and behavioral skills. As a leader at workplace, resolving conflicts in a proper way develop trust and promote collaboration among teammates.

During the session Lindi addressed the six different types of conflicts: goals, methods, facts, values, scarce resources and interpersonal conflicts. To resolve goal conflict, one needs to identify the common over-arching goal and then determine how to prioritize the conflicting goals to achieve this. Resolving methods conflicts often involve determining the desired end result and testing and choosing the method that works best. When it is possible one can blend the different methods or can look for an alternative option. Lindi emphasized on the use of ‘I’ statements that reflects ones feelings to resolve interpersonal conflicts. She encouraged the audience to reverse their roles and to understand others’ perspectives. It is very important to understand other person’s value while clarify one’s own.

Later half of the session Lindi talked about the six stages of conflict resolution. The first step is to identify the nature of the disagreement as relational, substantive or perceptual. Once the nature of the disagreement is being identified, the next steps are to build trust by active listening and by staying in the present; by asking diagnostic questions and by reframing strategies by moving from fighting to problem-solving. Another important stage is to brainstorm and explore mutual needs beforehand. In the final stage, one should seek for consensus not compromise to gain agreement.

Over all it was a very fun and interactive session where audience got the chance to identify their conflict management styles by participating in a self-assessment exercise. In response to their request, Lindi is coming back on November 26, 2014 for a follow up session where she is going to focus on conflict resolution and negotiation skills. We are anxiously waiting for this upcoming session where everyone will get the chance to practice their conflict management styles by role playing with other participants.

Lisa Parvin

SCWIST Brown Bag Coordinator


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