Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Workplace Coaching for High Conflict Situations


On October 3rd I presented a tele-seminar for the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) Workplace Section’s Conflict Coaching Committee, on Coaching for High-Conflict Situations. Conflict coaches are being sought more and more to assist employers and Human Resource Professionals in dealing with high-conflict behavior in the workplace, from bullying to bad-mouthing to major disruptions of work groups. I focused on two different coaching approaches: First, the C.A.R.S. Method is an approach I developed for assisting individuals who are dealing with a high-conflict person (HCP), such as a customer, co-worker or a boss. This method includes four steps that helps the coach connect with the client and focus the client on things he or she can actually do to deal with an HCP. It’s based on the book It’s All YOUR Fault! 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything.

The second approach I call “New Ways for Work,” which is a new method for coaches with a structured workbook for 3-6 individual sessions, depending on the assignment. This method is designed for potentially high-conflict employees who are in the early stages or pre-stage of progressive discipline. The employee may be valuable to the organization, but has engaged in high-conflict behavior, such as hostile and blaming emails, vague verbal threats, confrontations with co-workers, etc. A manager, H.R. person or other administrator may require the employee to attend 3 of 6 sessions with a coach specifically trained in this method. Then, after the employee is finished, there can be a meeting with the manager, H.R. person or other administrator, to see what the employee has learned. Then, there can be a meeting with another employee, when appropriate, using a method such as The Exchange (developed by the National Conflict Resolution Center, where I do some mediations) or some form of mediation. I hope to have this method ready in early 2012.

The listeners had good questions, including wanting to know more about the BIFF response method that is taught in both of these coaching methods. It is based on the method described in my recent book on this subject: BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns. This method really helps clients focus and manage their emotional response when attacked in print. I have provided many consultations on this method and received good feedback after clients have tried it. In general, it really helps to simply and structure what coaches are doing with clients, so that the client isn’t just becoming reliant on the coach, but learns skills to use in the future on his or her own.

For those who are interested in more about the New Ways for Work coaching method, check out our website in early 2012 (www.HighConflictInstitute.com) for the publication of the materials (Client Workbook and Coaches Guidebook) and training dates for using this method with potentially high-conflict clients. Much of the work with high-conflict clients is dealing with their resistance to positive growth, so that it really helps if the coach is a mental health professional.

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of "It's All Your Fault!", "Splitting", "BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns" and "Don't Alienate the Kids!". He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, Sweden, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

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