Disharmony and Resolution

Solutions when the heat is on

David Iwinski Jr.

Managing Director



David Iwinski Jr.

Managing Director

Blue Water Growth

US Mobile: +1 412 352 7997

China Mobile: +86 183 2128 4064

Skype ID: david.iwinski.bluewatergrowth

Disharmony and Resolution

Solutions when the heat is on

By David Iwinski

When I began my career, the business world operated with a resolute objectiveness where the focus was on revenue growth, earnings growth, innovation and customer satisfaction. The political sphere had ups and downs, but the general tenor of politics didn’t bleed into the office to any great extent.


How things have changed!


The level of divisiveness and discord that we see in the political sphere has, increasingly, found its way into business conflicts. Heightened tensions and strong emotions often escalate what used to be problems to be solved in the normal course of events to crisis points demanding high-intensity engagement, literally on a 24-hour basis. Not only are tempers running hotter, but the demand for immediate solutions can often lead to ill-considered knee-jerk reactions that, over time, can actually make the problems worse by not addressing underlying causes.


What is a manager to do? Here are a few practical steps to finding your way to lasting resolutions of conflicts in a time of disharmony.

  • Focus on the facts. All too often the high intensity of the perceived business conflict is fueled by emotional attachment to either a specific outcome or the source of the problem. This can be exacerbated when leaders try to propose short-term solutions before a dispassionate and careful analysis of all the facts allows a reasoned examination of the situation. Thoughtful managers can sift through angry commentary in search of nuggets of solid truth upon which the foundation of a solution can be built.


  • Defuse the anger with empathy and questions. All too often, when we hear of a difficult solution, our own ire is raised and we want to charge ahead to find either someone to hold accountable or to take the blame. It can be difficult to do dispassionate fact-finding if we ourselves allow our emotional intensity to rise. A good technique for dissipating frustration is to simply talk through the issues, giving empathy to the parties involved but not necessarily being sympathetic to their point of view. Understand why they are upset and what frustrations they face, but don’t allow leading questions to generate a feeling of being injured or backed into a corner. I particularly like to ask people about other situations similar to the immediate problem at hand so that they can start to think about things from the point of view of process and method and not just the personalities involved at the crisis point.


  • Alternatives and trade-offs are always better than single-point mandates. Almost always when there is an extremely difficult decision, the worst possible way to present the solution to teammates, clients or customers is to boil it down to a single “take it or leave it” decision point. Such decisions inevitably leave the parties dissatisfied as they often feel backed into a corner. A better method would be to offer three or four alternatives, some of which may be quite unfavorable or which may have specific aspects that the parties would object to. The simple reality is that being allowed to choose between alternatives, even if the alternatives themselves are not favorable, gives the parties in dispute a sense of control of their environment and management of the solution rather than feeling forced and compelled.

Conflicts in the workplace and disputes with customers, suppliers and employees have been commonplace since the first business enterprise was hatched. But the overheated and inflamed environment of many spheres of social and political life are impinging on the once orderly business world, and successful resolution of these intense conflicts requires new techniques, new tactics and, above all, a thoughtful and calm adherence to processes that seek the best resolution for all parties rather than contributing more wood to the fire.

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