October 2014: How to Have those Difficult Conversations

eNews Masthead - Transforming Challenges
In this Issue

Opening Remarks

How often have you put off having one of those conversations because you’re not exactly sure how to do it?  Senior Consultants Tom Reid and Anne Skorski offer some advice on strategies for communication that will address–and hopefully resolve–conflicts.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • We have been hired by Sacred Heart Parish in Bellevue, WA to conduct a strategic planning process and to facilitate a parish mission.
  • John Reid has been hired to facilitate a shareholders meeting for St. Joseph School in Seattle, WA. The meeting will bring parents and administrators together to discuss learning expectations and the accreditation process for the school.
  • Greg Cascione has extended his contract with Gesu School in Detroit for a third time, and has been hired to provide development coaching with the President and senior staff at Ladywood High School in Livonia, MI.
  • Maureen Gallagher will work with the Racine Dominicans in November in a free, one-day consultation on issues the Community is facing.
  • The Reid Group is joining REALM and Ziegler Consulting to co-sponsor the Women Religious Leaders Symposium in April 2015 in Greensboro, GA. Check out this web site for the agenda, or to register.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

The Reid Group teleseminar series

What do you do when you need to have a challenging conversation with a co-worker? Do you procrastinate, avoid it altogether–or do you have some tried and true practices to move forward?

You are invited to The Reid Group Teleseminar, hosted by Tom Reid and Anne

Overcoming Communication Obstacles At Work
: October 22, 2014
Time:  2 p.m. PT, 3 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. CT, 5 pm ET

During this teleseminar, participants will be provided a “best practice” top ten list for more effective communication within your organization. In addition, the session will also offer tips for practical ways to build on the momentum of the call.

Space is limited, so Register Today!

Are there issues or questions you would like to hear more about?  Send your comments and feedback to us at info@TheReidGroup.biz.

Feature Focus

How to Have those Difficult Conversations


Tom Reid, Senior Consultant

When there is conflict in your workplace, how do you deal with it? Do you face it head on, or do you ignore it and hope it will go away?

Avoiding conflict and difficult conversations is pretty typical in organizations, but just because it is the most prevalent tool in the tool kit doesn’t mean it is the most effective. And studies have shown that leaving conflict unresolved comes at a pretty high price.

Patrick O’Neill, a team-building consultant, cites research that contends that unresolved conflict represents the largest reducible cost in many businesses, yet it remains largely unrecognized. And the Center for Creative Leadership identifies lost time, turnover, grievances, absenteeism, poor decision making, dysfunctional collaboration practices and a poisoned workplace as the fallout from unresolved conflict.


Anne Skorski, Senior Consultant

So it seems like a no-brainer for leaders and organizations to develop strategies for dealing with conflict when it arises rather than ignore it. So why do so many managers choose avoidance anyway?

Some people avoid conflict because they think bringing it into the open will make things worse–that if everything looks peaceful, then it will be peaceful. But just as peace is more than the absence of war, a harmonious and productive workplace is more than just the absence of team members lobbing grenades into the next cubicle.

Many people avoid conflict because they have no idea how to proceed. They may know that they have to have that difficult conversation with the person or persons involved, but simply do not know how to structure or to engage in a difficult conversation.

Reams of books and articles have been written about conducting difficult conversations, and there is general consensus on some of the basic steps:

  1. Do it in person. An e-mail or phone conversation isn’t going to cut it.
  2. Set an appointment for the conversation. This isn’t the time for an “oh, by the way” interaction in the hallway or the break room.
  3. Assume the good intentions of all parties.
  4. Balance inquiry with advocacy. Don’t assume you understand the other person’s position, or insist only on outlining yours. Ask questions and really listen to the answers.
  5. Get to a “win-win” conclusion. This isn’t about winners or losers or who was right and who was wrong. It’s about trading “your way” and “my way” for “our way.”

Challenging as these conversations can be, they can lead the way to a much more productive work environment. Since conflict avoidance takes up a lot of energy, having those difficult conversations to resolve the conflict expands the bandwidth in an organization and sets up conditions for superior problem-solving and teamwork.


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

art of change cover

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from Amazon.com.

And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.Kathy Johnson, Editor, Transforming Challenges
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