Working Dynamics



April 2007  


Welcome to the quarterly Working Dynamics Newsletter. Our goal is to highlight ways we can communicate more effectively, have stronger work relationships, and manage conflict constructively in our work lives.

Susan Gunn, Working Dynamics

In this issue...


There's a Little Ostrich in Each of Us

ostrichIn popular mythology, the ostrich is famous for hiding its head in the sand at the first sign of danger. As humans, we sometimes react to threats in the workplace in a somewhat similar way. When we've had a conflict with someone we work with, we may minimize the time we might spend with that person or even make a special effort to avoid them altogether. We tell ourselves ignoring the person or the problem will make it go away. Of course, the reverse is true. Avoiding a small problem actually results in it becoming an even larger problem. Even though we know this to be true, we all have a little ostrich in us (or a big one). You can improve how you handle conflict.

Working Dynamics uses the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) with individuals and groups to help them become more aware of the ways they currently respond to conflict and then to begin a process of becoming conflict competent as an individual and as a team.

Contact us for more information ...


Feuds Are Like Sweets ...

cookiesListening to TV one morning, I heard someone say "Feuds are like sweets — too many are bad for your health!" In the workplace, "feuds" can be a total breakdown in communication and they can take a more subtle form. The result is the same — cooperation is low, tensions are high, and everyone becomes polarized and convinced their "story" is the only way to look at the situation. Workplace "feuds" are bad for your health (and your career). Nothing wears you down more than negative emotional energy. Often we talk in this newsletter about career mobility and career satisfaction. Let's face it, when we have one too many difficult relationships to handle, we are very dissatisfied. All too often, the outcome is starting our day with a knot in our stomach, snapping at co-workers who did absolutely nothing to irritate us, and looking foolish when we've made a sarcastic or cutting remark in a public setting that is way out of line for the situation.

A simple problem-solving model ...


 Webinar: Conflict Competent Leadership

More than 60 of you attended our March 8 Leadership Breakfast and heard Craig Runde discuss conflict competent leadership and his new book written with co-author Tim Flanagan. The feedback from attendees was excellent! You told us the content, speaker, and value were great. Thanks for attending!

On May 17, both Craig Runde and Tim Flanagan will present more on the topic in an hour-long webinar. For those of you who wanted to come and couldn't, here is another chance. For those of you who attended and would like others in your workplace also to benefit, this is ideal as both a team-building and training opportunity!

When: May 17, 1–2 PM ET
Price: $50 (per viewing site)

Webinar details ...


 Turning Life's Lessons into Leadership Experience

BookExperiences from family relationships, friendships, volunteer work, and personal avocations can help you reach the developmental goals you've set for yourself as effectively as on-the-job experiences, according to Learning from Life: Turning Life's Lessons Into Leadership Experience. Since conflict resolution and relationship building are such valuable commodities in the workplace, you might think of how you have been effective in resolving conflict and building relationships in your personal life. As a manager, you're likely to encounter situations in which a colleague behaves in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Your previous success at working through serious family issues can help you develop the skills you need to deal with those kinds of situations and to turn a tension-filled environment into a productive and collaborative one.

Co-authors Miriam N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • What interpersonal challenge do you face at work?
  • What challenge in your personal life is similar?
  • What mistakes did you make in dealing with that off-the-job situation?
  • What actions and skills helped you resolve the situation?
  • What did you learn that you can translate to your on-the-job challenge?

Available from CCL online ...


 Virginia Association of Conflict Resolution Conference

logoThe Virginia Association of Conflict Resolution will hold its Annual Conference May 6–7 in Fredericksburg. This is a good opportunity for those interested in conflict resolution to meet practitioners in the field and hear nationally known speakers. The conference will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fredericksburg.

Full conference brochure ...


About the publisher

Susan Gunn is president of Working Dynamics, a Richmond, VA consulting firm. Working Dynamics builds collaboration and success in the workplace through development programs and conflict management. Learn more about us at

"Confront the difficult while it is still easy. Accomplish the great task by a series of small acts." — Lao Tzu

In a CCL survey, managers said the skills they most needed to develop are:

  1. confronting others
  2. managing conflict

Center for Creative Leadership

Research studies say that 20–40% of a leader's time is spent dealing with conflict. What is the percentage for you? Multiply that percentage by your annual salary to see how much conflict is costing you.

Eckerd College Leadership Development Institute


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Workplace Mediation


Employee Surveys

Conflict Dynamics and Assessment Programs

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