Working Dynamics



December 2005 


Welcome to this year's fourth-quarter edition of the Working Dynamics Newsletter. Our goal with each issue is to highlight what all of us can do to have stronger work relationships, communicate more effectively, and manage conflict constructively in our work lives.

Don't hesitate to pass along this e-newsletter! There is a link at the bottom of this page to make it simple. (We assure you that all of our email addresses are strictly confidential. Working Dynamics NEVER shares subscribers' information.)

Susan Gunn, Working Dynamics

P.S. Word count for this issue is 954 (estimated read time is under four minutes).


In this issue...

  • Certification Workshop on Dec. 13
  • When Employees Need You to Mediate
  • Cranky Customers: A Threat To Your Competitive Edge
  • The Power of Pizza (and our other favorite foods)

When Employees Need You to Mediate

If you are viewed as a successful leader, employees will ask you to help mediate conflict in your workplace whether you are a trained mediator or not. Be glad you were asked and take the opportunity to model the behaviors they'll need to solve the problem. Through your actions, you can provide the tools employees need for a positive and productive conversation.

What to do:

  • Let the speaker tell his/her story from start to finish.
  • Don't interrupt.
  • Keep eye contact to show interest.
  • Use non-verbal communication to confirm that you are listening (e.g., positive facial expressions, nodding your head at appropriate times, etc.).
  • Have and demonstrate respect for the speaker; acknowledge the strengths s/he has shown in handling the situation.

What not to do:

  • Don't make judgments about the conflict.
  • Don't rehearse mentally what the conflicting parties will say and do next.
  • Don't assume you know all the facts.
  • Don't interrupt or complete sentences.
  • Don't try to help staff resolve conflict if you are short on time.
  • Don't tell the parties how their conflict should be resolved.

Contact Working Dynamics if you need mediation assistance...


Cranky Customers: A Threat to Your Competitive Edge

clip art If your customers, whether external or internal, don't like your response to their complaints, you stand to lose business and/or productivity. Your first reaction may be a strung urge to get a complaining customer out of your office as soon as possible. However, complaints are opportunities that can lead to a competitive advantage for your organization. Here how from Sterling Newberry's article "Customer Complaints: Five Easy Steps to Turn Conflict into a Competitive Edge."

  1. When the complaint comes, resist the temptation to defend yourself.
  2. When speaking with the complainer, ask questions to learn as much as you can.
  3. Take responsibility for your side of the issue. At the very least, express regret that your customer had a negative experience.
  4. When it seems you and your customer have agreed on a resolution, repeat it.
  5. Finally, thank your customer for bringing the problem to you.



The Power of Pizza (and our other favorite foods)

It is tempting to keep everyone focused on the work — there's so much to do. However, a little team "play" can be personally rejuvenating as well as highly beneficial for team relationships. Time away from work spent with your team in a relaxed atmosphere is most beneficial. In fact, it may most beneficial when it is the most difficult to pull off due to interpersonal tensions and deadline stress.

Here's a plan: Order a pizza or other takeout food together occasionally instead of going separate ways for lunch. Consider a potluck lunch one day with team members bringing their favorite food. Bring sweets from home or extras from your garden (or freezer). Food has a magical way of bringing people together around a common theme that has nothing to do with work goals, personalities, progress (or lack of it), or anything else related to the workplace. You know this, I'm just reminding you. This concept is not rocket science, but implementation can seem impossible, especially when the work is stressful. Yet that's exactly when pizza is most powerful!

If you want to follow up on any of the ideas in this newsletter,
email or call us ...


Certification Workshop
on Dec. 13

Would you like a new tool you can use in leadership development as well as teambuilding and organizational development? Working Dynamics and the Leadership Development Institute of Eckerd College will present a Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) certification session for human resource development professionals on Tuesday, Dec. 13 in Richmond. Our program will certify you to purchase, administer, and interpret the CDP instrument.

The CDP is an assessment instrument dealing with conflict behaviors in the workplace. It provides a powerful way to improve self-awareness of what triggers conflict in individuals as well as how they respond to conflict. The Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd, Licensed Network Associate of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), developed CDP for CCL's renowned Foundations of Leadership Program.

Effective conflict resolution skills have become critical for today's leaders. According to CCL, "Conflict at work is inevitable....Assuming that individuals can naturally tackle deep organizational dilemmas without tools and organizational support is naive."

Working Dynamics offers this certification session for HRD professionals a few times a year. Read more about the CDP as well as view sample reports by going to the link (Conflict Dynamics Assessment and Development) in the services section below. The next session will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 13. (Contact us by Thursday, Dec. 8, if you are interested in attending).

Workshop brochure with details (PDF)

Working Dynamics Services:


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