Transcript: How to Resolve Workplace Conflict and Promote a Safe Environment for Women

by Allegra M. Sinclair  - June 4, 2023

I’m pleased to offer AI-generated transcripts for each of my podcast episodes. I believe these transcripts will be a helpful resource for you to revisit the wisdom and insights shared in the conversations. However, as advanced as technology is, it might not perfectly capture or interpret some words or phrases, especially industry-specific jargon or names. Therefore, please understand that there may be minor typos or grammar inconsistencies in the transcripts.

Intro: Welcome to the Your Confidence self podcast with Allegra Sinclair. Get ready to punch fear in the throat and gain confidence like never before. I help corporate women get the confidence to ask for the job they want and do the work they love. Isn’t it time you’ve got unstuck and showed the world how fabulous list you are?

Allegra M. Sinclair: Hey, this is Allegra welcome to this episode of the podcast. Thank you for joining us. Today we are going to take a little bit of a departure from our confidence conversations. OOH. But you are going to enjoy the trip because our guest today is someone who I have just met recently, but she is fire in the hole. I loved our pre conversation, and I actually had to make myself stop talking to her so I wouldn’t cover everything before we actually got on the show live. So I want you to help me welcome Kristine Scott. Now, Kristine began her career in social services and quickly noticed that, hey, stuff could get real, stuff could get hairy. And when she was in the middle of these tough situations, she would either find herself overreacting or freezing. And as most deep thinkers, she thought, hey, I wonder if I could do better at handling conflict, at handling tough situations. So she kicked off a 20 year exploration, a 20 year adventure to answer that question, which has now got her as a conflict resolutionary and a highly sought after trainer in this space. So she teaches people how to reach in instead of freak out when things get tough. And she’s hired by clients from the Seattle Space Needle to farmers markets to office teams and everything in between, to give people the confidence and skills they need to be friendly, firm, and calm in the face of conflict and crisis. Welcome, Kristine.

Kristine Scott: Thank you so much.

Allegra Sinclair: Well, thank you for being here. This is such a juicy topic, especially for women in the workplace, because we see conflict a lot.

Kristine Scott: Yes.

Allegra Sinclair: And one of the things that you and I talked about was, are we prewired to behave differently around conflict than men are? So let’s start there. Are women hey, go big or stay home, right. Are women predisposed to behave a certain way in conflict versus men?

Kristine Scott: Biologically, no. We’ve got all of the same wires and misfires, but socially, this is where it gets interesting. Socially, we’re told that we cannot be direct, we cannot be demanding, we cannot be, like, full of ourselves, because that’s just not feminine.

Allegra Sinclair: It’s just not ladylike.

Kristine Scott: Just not ladylike for us to come across like we know what needs to happen next. Right. So what happens with conflict is we’re told, oh, you need a man to handle that. We start to internalize these messages that we’re bad at conflict and that we should just kind of let a man do it for us. And that was one of the early mistakes I made. I was running a meal program. And I had this young man who was causing problems, shall we say he was too old to be in this program for teenagers, for one. And for another, he was kind of stalking some of the young women who.

Allegra Sinclair: Mercy needed to be there.

Kristine Scott: Right. I was feeling a little out of my league as here I am, this small town gal and I have to ask him to leave, right. And so I decided all of those messages that I just needed a man behind me. So I went to this other young man who I knew and trusted and I said, hey, Ron, could you just stand over my shoulder so it looks like I have backup because this is going to be a hard conversation. So I went up to the young man and I said, I think you need to leave. You’re no longer welcome here. And he started to argue with me and the moment he said something disrespectful in my direction, this guy behind me who was much taller than I was, just popped him in the nose right over my shoulder.

Allegra Sinclair: That’s certainly one way you could go with it popping in the nose. Yes. Of all the places where you were headed, I didn’t know that’s what was going to happen. I know you’re going to say that the young guy you went and got, what’s his name? Ron, I thought you were going to say he kind of pushed you out of the way and took over. But no, he just reached over and decked dude, just decked the dude right.

Kristine Scott: Behind me and hey. And in that moment, all illusions that I needed a man to help me with conflict was gone.

Allegra Sinclair: Well, that is a wonderful thing. So I immediately see a confidence aspect to that. So one, you were so ingrained or so willing to believe that you couldn’t handle the conflict alone. Now, I don’t know if that’s because the conflict was with another man, because certainly there are times when physically it might make sense, right, to have more than one person deal with something. But just in a regular conflict type situation that we might encounter in our office, though, I suspect somebody might email me and say, you know, allegra, I had a conflict in my office. And yes, somebody got bopped in the nose. So that might happen more than I’m aware of. But think about you approaching that situation and not even having the confidence to try because all the messages that you had received were you can’t do this, somebody else should do this. You need a man to do this. With the presumption being what? That men are biologically wired to handle conflict better.

Kristine Scott: Well, here’s the fallacy is that we believe that conflict can only have one winner because that if it gets physical, it’s basically about physical domination. And so when you look into that message and that fallacy further, that’s where gender roles really come up, right? Like, oh, well, if this thing goes physical, this guy that I’m talking to, he’s much bigger than I am, he’s much stronger than I am. That must be why I need a man. But real, like, what has happened for me in my journey is I’ve changed my definition of conflict. Now it’s not about, oh, it’s only done if there’s a winner. For me, conflict is not done until there are two winners.

Allegra Sinclair: Oh, that’s interesting. So let’s back up for just a moment then, and take a little bit more of a look at conflict specifically. So when I’m talking about conflict, just to make sure that we’re on the same page. So conflict for me could be I work with a particular person and whenever we’re in a meeting, she has a habit of kind of jumping on the bandwagon or kind of jumping into what I say so I can’t finish a complete thought. She kind of jumps in and interrupts me, or she kind of jumps in and changes the topic, or she just jumps in in some way and interrupts my rhythm. I would describe that as a conflict in my workplace with that particular person. We’re certainly not going to fight about that, but yet to me, it’s not what I would call a full on crisis, but there is certainly conflict there. And if I thought I needed somebody else to solve that for me, I’m going to show up very differently at my workplace than I would if I felt like I was equipped to deal with it.

Kristine Scott: And with your permission, I would love to use that as an example.

Allegra Sinclair: Sure. I made up I was thinking about someone in particular from a previous life, if I’m honest about it. But yes, right now I don’t have that cough.

Kristine Scott: So this previous life person yes. If you had just said, hey, stop interrupting me, right. She would have felt hurt and had her toes stepped on, and it may or may not have changed the behavior, but if you said, oh, there’s something going on here, and I’m going to reach for a deeper trust and understanding and clarity with her because we have two different ways of engaging in these staff meetings. And I’m just curious, like, what’s going on here? That second approach is a much different conversation. And that second approach, you would say something like, so here’s what I notice, and one thing that you might not know about me is that if I don’t get to finish my thought, I feel disrespected and I don’t want to start resenting you because I really think you’re a great person.

Allegra Sinclair: Are you having that conversation? Privacy with the interrupter? I think that’s the other important piece of that.

Kristine Scott: Right.

Allegra Sinclair: So if I had said, you keep interrupting me, you didn’t let me finish, that’s likely to happen right then in the moment. Right. A couple of weeks ago, I did a podcast episode about how you can handle your emotions better in the workplace in order to not make career limiting decisions. So, yes, I think that’s interesting because one is where I’m saying, if you don’t stop interrupting me or you keep interrupting me, if you would let me finish my thought or something like that, that’s going to happen right in the moment, which might not lot I loved what you said. It’s not going to change the behavior because at the end of the day, what I want to happen is I want to be able to finish a thought. So I loved it when you’re like, hey, what I’m noticing is if I don’t get to finish my thought, I feel disrespected. Well, yeah, that’s true, but also, if I don’t get to finish my thought, I won’t remember 20 minutes from now where I was headed with that. And the reason why I started speaking was because it was important. Right. So I think introverts sometimes deal with that more often than extroverts, because we do pause. We wait a couple of minutes before we contribute in the meeting, and that gives people who want to interrupt right. The runway, they need to jump in there before I got a chance to finish my thought. So that is interesting. So the way we’ll approach the person in order to get what we want, which is a change in behavior, is different based on how we’re approaching it versus whether we just want to win or whether we want what did you say? You want there to be two winners. Okay. Whether to be two winners or two winners. Okay.

Kristine Scott: Yeah. If there’s two winners, then she’s walking away with a better understanding of how you work. She might not have known you were an introvert. She might not have known that she was jumping on your launching pad for your next thought.

Allegra Sinclair: Right. I love that. I do know that you believe that women are naturally better at conflict than men.

Kristine Scott: Why is that? We are predisposed to be watching for people’s emotional and social needs. And a lot of conflict is emotional, social needs. The fact that you could articulate what this other person was doing puts you a step ahead of most people. Right. You’re like saying, okay, here’s my social understanding, here’s my expectation. You’re not doing it right. Whereas men would just jump in there and say, hey, stop interrupting me. And there would be no awareness about how this was serving this other person or what the role was in the larger social group. Women can lean into these situations in a way that allows everybody to get their needs met, because that’s generally how we’re socialized to behave and what’s expected of us. Right.

Allegra Sinclair: That’s interesting.

Kristine Scott: We’re better at not being the center of our own drama and thinking about other people. And the other reason that we have an advantage is, again, the physical threat aspect of conflict is where a lot of people go when we’re in our fight flight freeze brain, which happens when we’re super stressed, we’re immediately thinking about the possibility of a physical conflict. And if somebody appears big, strong and can use their body in a way that postures aggression, then we’re more likely to respond with that primal response than if we don’t feel physically threatened by them.

Allegra Sinclair: So first of all, the fact that women are naturally better because we kind of see an entire situation and we do men are more externally focused, women more internally. So we do tend to think to ourselves, okay, what’s going on here? Right? Our first thought isn’t always to respond out loud. Our first thought is, okay, let’s read the room. What on earth is happening here? So I love it that we are better at conflict. It’s fascinating to me, though, that we probably believe, many of us, that we are not as good at it because we do tend to think of conflict as one way, as the oh, it could get physical at any moment. And if it’s a physical confrontation, then I’m not likely to win. I think it’s also different if the person who you’re having conflict with is the same sex or not. So if I’m having conflict with another woman at my workplace, it’s going to be different for me than it is if I’m having conflict with a man. That’s very true, and I’m sure it’s vice versa, right?

Kristine Scott: Exactly.

Allegra Sinclair: So I know that not being able to handle conflict or working in a workspace where there’s a lot of conflict that is exhausting. And you might not even realize how tired you are from it until you get into a situation where there isn’t conflict. Like you might go to a meeting off site or you might go to a new organization and your body might be like bracing for blows that don’t even come. So being able to recognize how your body’s responding to conflict and figure out how to manage that better is really critical for serving you as you move throughout the world. So whether you stay in that environment or not, your body will still react to that. It’s kind of like we tell people not to say bad things about themselves because your mind doesn’t know if you’re kidding or not, right? If I tell myself all day long, oh my gosh, I’m so tired, when I’m legitimately not tired, guess what? I’m going to be tired because my body doesn’t know that I’m playing. My body thinks, oh, I heard she’s tired, so let’s accommodate her. Let’s be tired. So what effect do you think that’s having in our workplaces? First of all, is it true that there’s a lot more conflict right now between people or am I imagining that?

Kristine Scott: No, it’s really true. We came out of lockdown with fewer resources and more addictions, basically. I mean, put it bluntly, we know depression, we know anxiety are up we know social skills and social reasoning are down. There’s been studies that have shown that increased isolation is decreased IQ and decreased emotional capacity. So all of that stuff happened to us, and then we come back out of lockdown and we’re looking for life the way it used to be and is not here anymore. Oh, my gosh. We haven’t learned how to human with each other since the pandemic hit us.

Allegra Sinclair: So with all the other mayhem that the pandemic brought to our lives now, it made us dumber and less able to communicate with one another. You said lower. Being inside my house made me less smart.

Kristine Scott: All it takes is three weeks for us to lose IQ points. Three weeks of isolation.

Allegra Sinclair: Suppose I spent that three weeks reading. I want to argue with you so badly. Suppose I spent those three weeks writing a book or doing is that just because of lack of interaction with other humans? I don’t want to believe okay, I’m going to stop arguing. You’re the expert. But dad, that is just not good news.

Kristine Scott: I had the same reaction when I heard this study.

Allegra Sinclair: I was just like, Wait, no, that can’t be me. That can’t be me. That can’t be I’ve been reading, like, four books a week since the pandemic started. Surely I am smarter at this point than I was in the beginning, but you just kind of ripped the frame off that.

Kristine Scott: Okay, well and at least we can acknowledge that our people skills really took a hit.

Allegra Sinclair: I absolutely agree with that. If we’re seeing a lot more conflict in our workplaces now, what kind of effect is that having on those workplaces?

Kristine Scott: Yeah. So you named it really well, as far as your body is telling you, I’m not safe here, and that increases your stress level. And when our stress level is up, our cognition goes down, our sense of impending doom and threat increases. So things that are really minor, like the boss not acknowledging that you wish to speak to them right away, you immediately go into some story about how you’re going to get fired next week. Right. We have less resource as we’re handling the stress. And the other bad news about stress is that our capacity to make good decisions also goes out the window. Any implicit bias that we have, and we all have them, any implicit bias gets acted out when we’re stressed. We could all be like, these lovely, very socially aware people until we’re stressed, and then that bias gets acted out. So I really remind people, for you to do well in your job or do well in your relationships, you actually have to be operating from what’s called your parasympathetic nervous system. And that’s just fancy talk for the place that you’re calm that you can access your emotional resources. Right. Most of us have jobs that are constantly pulling us out of that zone. That’s a big part of what I teach people is like, okay, here’s how to get in the zone, and here’s how your body feels when you’re not there. So you know, okay, I got to give myself the breaths, and I got to give myself that emotional check in so that I can go into this difficult conversation.

Allegra Sinclair: So let’s look at that for just a moment now that I’m thoroughly I was going to say I was thoroughly depressed, but I don’t want to make light of that. I’m really not depressed, but I’m thinking, wow, so no wonder my clients are dealing with a whole other level of stress because I’ve been seeing that, right, a whole different level of stress. And we talk about that a lot in ways that they can manage that, but I did not factor in that going back to the office and having to people again with people who are now not as well equipped to do that could be affecting that stress level. So what are some things that you can do to become more aware of the toll that conflict in your workplace is taking on you? Because here’s the thing that I’m thinking in the back of my mind. So in addition to the pandemic, which holy moly. Right? Just holy guacamole. So first there’s that, but then also pre pandemic, we also had a lot of unrest and conflict in the world. We tend to think of companies as separate things, but companies are built up of all of the people who you were fussing with in your neighborhood. Right. So we have had a lot of unrest and conflict in the world and which is playing out in this terrarium called our companies. So how do I recognize that I might be dealing with conflict in a way that’s not best for me? How do I start to figure out what some of the effects of this conflict are?

Kristine Scott: Yeah, so there’s two things. There’s what you’re feeling in the moment, like when you’re in that workplace, what’s going on with your body, what’s going on with your heart rate, your breath rate, your sense of well being. Is all of that shattered or you just ran from one fire to the next? All right, so that’s the first thing in the moment. And then the second thing is what is your perception of the people you work with or the people that you serve? A lot of the places that hire me have customer service teams. Like, think about the Seattle Space Needle. They’ve got thousands of people going through there every day. And the people who talk about their guests as though they’re just faceless members of this parade that they don’t really respect anymore, those guys have been doing this in a way that’s not coming from their authentic selves. They’re burned out. They’re embittered, and they can no longer be open to the possibility that the next guest that comes through their hands is going to be somebody that they really enjoy or appreciate. And that makes me sad. That’s what I tell people, you know what? Even if you’re never going to see this person again, you owe it to yourself to have a good interaction with them because it impacts how you feel about the next guest you serve and the next guest you serve. And if you want to do this job for more than six months, you better work on that. You better invite positive interactions.

Allegra Sinclair: So I think what I heard was I can tell. So first of all, I have to want to look at this, right? So it’s the same with kind of overall general self awareness. I have to be willing to take a look. And sometimes we’re afraid to do that because nobody wants to look at an area of themselves and think, oh, Lord, now I have a lot of work to do over there, too. I knew I needed to work at the skill over here, but now I have this other one. Thanks, allegra. Thanks a lot. Well, no, it’s not me, it’s you. Thanks, Kristine. Thanks a lot for telling us. Now that we have this whole other area to look at, but the first thing I thought I heard was in order to figure out if conflict is a problem for you, take a look at how your body feels when you’re in that setting. You talked about everything. Like, are you breathing shallower? Right? Is your heart racing? Like, are you tensed up? So if you’re in a setting, we’re talking about work, right? Because most of the folks listening are dealing with these types of conflict in their workplace. But if you’re in a situation when you can literally feel your body responding to things that may not even have happened yet, so you’re tensed up as if there’s a bear about to charge out of the woods when you’re not even in the woods, right? That could be a sign that you’re a little gun shy and that you need to think about how you might handle conflict differently. But the second piece of that was taking a look at how you feel about the people around you. Is there an assumption there that might not serve you? Am I assuming that everybody who comes to me is going to disrespect me or interrupt me if we look back at the previous example? Right? So it’s kind of a two pronged approach at figuring out, is conflict a problem for you?

Kristine Scott: And generally we always have our favorite people, like the people that we get along well with. And I encourage folks who are new to this whole using conflict as path for their own growth. It’s like, okay, so think about that person that you really like and think about an area that you would like to make that relationship even better. Like, you really love them and you’ve even socialized with them outside of work, but it kind of annoys you when they lay this nickname on you that you didn’t really choose, right? So now imagine just having a conversation with them about that nickname and you’re going to bring your best self to that because this relationship is really important to you. And I always encourage people, start there and see what happens and use this as an experiment about who you are and when you show up in a conflicted conversation. Right. Because a lot of times we’ll, again, like I learned, come off way too aggressive or way too passive because that’s what our biology tells us to do. Right. We have all this old wiring in our body that says, oh, there’s some tension going on. She’s nervous about this conversation. Oh, this conversation is going to kill me. Right. We have this part of our brain that cannot tell the difference between a threat to our social standing and a threat to our life. It releases the same exact chemicals with either of those things.

Allegra Sinclair: That’s sobering.

Kristine Scott: Yeah, it is.

Allegra Sinclair: Wow.

Kristine Scott: So my advice to people, start with the easy conversations with people you like and people that you can reach into so that even if there’s a mess up and the conversation doesn’t go well, you can stay at it until you get it right. And once you get good with those folks that you have affinity with, then start practicing it on the folks that are a little bit harder, the folks that you have maybe less grace with, because this is really about you and your path to become what I call a conflict resolutionary. And I use that as kind of a nod to what you talked about as far as the social uprising that is still happening in our country. We have a lot of folks who are basically saying, hey, I deserve to be treated better. And one of the ways conflict has been not handled well in our society is we have this whole ranking system in this country that if you’re a white, cisgendered male Protestant with a physically able body between these ages, that you’re, like, at the top of the food chain, and everybody else has to kind of know their place. Right? Well, guess what? If we embrace this idea that conflict is only about multiple people winning as they reach in and understand each other better, then that whole ranking system doesn’t really work anymore.

Allegra Sinclair: I imagine that the people for whom our current system works I’m trying to behave myself. I’m painting with a generalized brush here. Right. That’s what we do. We know that we’re not talking about everybody, but for someone who is white, heterosegendered, physically abled, I can’t remember all those other things you said, but for that person for whom the system works, for him, he doesn’t have to worry about conflict with other people because it’s kind of set up for him to win always. So if we’re changing the definition of conflict and the objective of conflict resolution to be that everybody wins, not just that one person gets their way. If I’m that dude who’s been winning, I have feelings about no longer being the winner.

Kristine Scott: Yes.

Allegra Sinclair: Right?

Kristine Scott: Yes.

Allegra Sinclair: So also we have to take that into account when we’re in the workplace. So if, for instance, I hate to keep harping on this person who was interrupting, but if I go back to her, if that has worked well for her, if she is seen as a leader, if her opinions are very important to people, right. They seek her out because of the way she has behaved. If I’m suggesting that she behave a different way, there’s going to be pushback there because what she’s doing is working for her. And it may not be top of mind for her whether or not it works for me. Not for nothing. She doesn’t care necessarily if it works for me, if it has been working for her, if what is important to her is that she gets to behave the way she wants, right?

Kristine Scott: Yes.

Allegra Sinclair: So I think one of the lessons that I want to work on as I think about conflict resolution in my workplace is how I’m confident enough to be okay with conflict. Because I think I was raised by a very strict Jamaican dad and an adorable Southern bell woman, but there wasn’t supposed to be conflict. Life was supposed to be polite and genteel at all times. And if it wasn’t, the person who was creating the havoc should not be a woman. So I think I always try to resolve conflicts, but conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. And I need to get okay with the fact that sometimes conflict will continue to exist despite my best efforts.

Kristine Scott: It will. And I have started to embrace conflict as a good thing because anything that gets us uncomfortable, emotionally vulnerable, and open to the fact that we impact and interact and rely on each other is an opportunity for growth. It’s not a comfortable one, but when we’re just having this academic discussion about this and that, I have nothing on the line. I’ve got no skin on the game. But once it’s about how you and I work together and if I’m going to be able to be in a staff meeting with you in the future, now I’m a little more engaged and a little more nervous, and hopefully I’m going to learn about you in a way that doesn’t threaten me. And that’s where it gets interesting. Like how you handle it, right? If you make it about you, like, hey, this is just something I know about myself, that when I get interrupted, I’m just assuming that this other person doesn’t respect what’s going to come out of my mouth next. And I might be wrong there, but that’s where my mind goes.

Allegra Sinclair: So I just had an interesting well, it might not be interesting, so let me just say.

Kristine Scott: I had a thought.

Allegra Sinclair: I guess my audience, a jury of my peers will decide its interestingness, but I just had a thought when you were talking about if I make it about me and the assumptions I’m making in the workplace. And one of the things I think is an opportunity for us is high achieving, successful women in the workplace have an opportunity to help each other in this space. So I’m not just talking about me going to this other high achieving woman and saying, hey, by the way, you keep stepping on my punchline. Let me tell the whole joke. Not just that, but I think one of the things that works well in conflict is for people to get on the same page, right? For people to get on the same page. Not that we all have to think the same, because diversity isn’t just about color. It’s about how we think, how we speak, right. How we show up. And I am all about celebrating diversity. But what I think is interesting is if we all have the same goal, that it be a space where we can have conflict with one another and still be respectful and work together. That is perhaps the best possible outcome. Because I often see and I would be really hesitant to approach another woman in senior leadership. I would never do it publicly, but I’d be hesitant to approach her privately because I think it’s so important for us to be allies of one another. Right. So in spaces where sometimes we’re the only one, I would never want to be seen as tearing another woman down. So I think I would be hesitant to even address the conflict. I wouldn’t be afraid of it. But I think that the risk of us not being able to work together as well if it didn’t go well. So, like you said, practice with someone who you have a little grace with, who you know, a little bit better. I would be afraid that the downside to it not going well with that other female senior leader would be too great a risk.

Kristine Scott: Yeah.

Allegra Sinclair: What would you tell me to do? I know you don’t want to leave me there in that frightened place.

Kristine Scott: No. When you don’t know, you can always test the waters. Right. You can always just try a small, minor thing. It might not be that she interrupts it. It might really be that she’s not, I don’t know, putting her name on her food in the staff refrigerator. Like it could be something that you start off small and just see. Like, is she open to a little friendly feedback? Does that does that go well? And you’re going to start with something that if it doesn’t get resolved to your satisfaction, no big deal, right? But you’re just curious, is she one of these lifelong learners or is she one of these, like, I got my way and that is the only way right, because you’re right. The agreement needs to be for a workplace to be safe, it needs to be that, hey, this is how we handle conflict. We expect and raise each other up to the standard of accountability. And what’s beautiful about that for women is that we historically have had to do that with and for each other. But we’ve been put into a work environment designed by men with the same kind of rugby team rules, where the.

Allegra Sinclair: Top dog the top dog behaves this way. Right.

Kristine Scott: And no surprise, that makes women more competitive and more hierarchical, and we have to be more guarded. And rather than being mad that we’re in a workplace that wasn’t designed for our wisdom, we take it out on each other. And when we can do that, Allyship, that you’re talking about, where we really do have each other’s backs and we have agreements around how conflict is going to be handled. Oh, it’s amazing. In workplaces that have done good conflict work, they are much more adaptable and flexible and able to create really dynamic teams, because when stuff comes up, it becomes the focus of attention. How do we get good affinity going? Because we need affinity to work together.

Allegra Sinclair: So let’s pretend I’m listening to this and I’m thinking, all right, you know what, Kristine? I see a great opportunity here. For me, as far as my professional growth. I need to get better at recognizing the effect conflict is having on me. I need to get better at managing the conflict. And maybe there’s even an opportunity for me to be a leader in my organization at talking about it, right. Like, bringing it to the forefront, not continuing to just think, oh, my gosh, let’s armor up because there’s a staff meeting, or, oh, good Lord, let’s get chocolate, because the minute this meeting is over, we’re all going to need some sort of intervention. Right? So what’s a good place for us to start? So if I recognize I recognize myself in this conversation, and I realize I am having physical effects from the conflict and I want to get better at it, what’s a great place for me to start.

Kristine Scott: Well, I’m going to go over what I call the three rings of conflict. The first place you start is the very middle. The very middle of the Tootsie Pop. Right? This is where you are just about you. Okay. This is where you’re very clear about your purpose. What’s my purpose in this conversation about whether or not somebody puts their name on their food in the refrigerator, right? Oh, my purpose is I’m just testing the waters. I’m just curious if I can build a little modcom of an agreement with her about how we handle difficult conversations. Okay. So I know I know my role, and I know, like, if she says, Screw you, I don’t need to write my name on my food in the refrigerator. I know it’s mine, and that’s all that matters.

Allegra Sinclair: Okay?

Kristine Scott: I have no responsibility because I’m not going to play food police, right? And that’s okay. Right. So you start off with that little inner circle, that clarity of purpose and who you are and what your goal is in the conversation.

Allegra Sinclair: Okay? So that’s the first ring.

Kristine Scott: That’s the first ring. And then the second ring is all about learning about this other person. You get to be really curious about them. They’re different than I am. I’m not going to make any assumptions that they share my value about leftovers in the fridge or that they share my value even about being able to complete my statement in the staff meeting. Okay? So I’m going to use language that’s really neutral. Like, you know what, when I was raised by such and such, like, for example, in my case, I was raised by a man who was half Filipino, and food was super, super important. Like, it wasn’t an event unless there was lots and lots of food, and leftovers were like, proof that we’d had this big social, amazing event. I get to say, hey, one thing that I know about myself is that food is really important and anything that’s wasted in the fridge is just, like, not fathomable. I was raised in a family that we always used every ounce of food. So I’m curious. You might have a different understanding or agreement about food, and I’m just learning because I was raised in such a weird way, and by using language like that, my curiosity comes across as kind of like I’m a social anthropologist. I’m just trying to figure out that there’s different ways of thinking than my own. And so that curiosity allows them to be open because there’s no value judgment that I’m assigning.

Allegra Sinclair: Okay, so ring one is understanding who I am and what my purpose is in that conflict. Ring two is adopting neutral language and thinking more about how I might differ from the person that I’m having conflict with. And ring three?

Kristine Scott: Ring three is compassion that whatever they share, you just take that as their own truth. All of your judgments and all of your desires to say, well, they’re just doing this because they want to get under my skin, right? All of that stuff. You can’t have that here. You have to be able to have this third ring, which is just about that win win. Like, oh, okay. So what I’m hearing is that your desire to have your leftovers and my desire to have my leftovers are both going to work, and mine will have my name on them, and yours are always going to be in that little baggie that you bring from home. And that’s cool. That totally works for me. Okay. Anytime that we feel like we have the right answer, the right solution, we’re not being compassionate, we’re not being open, we’re not being curious about them. And so that third ring is really like paraphrasing what they say in a way that’s super respectful and shows that you’re trying to create something that works for both of you.

Allegra Sinclair: Awesome. And you call that your three rings of conflict resolution? No, I love that. So as we’re getting ready to wrap today, because I need to go work on my conflict resolution skill, as I get ready to leave here and go look for some conflict because I must leave my house so I can get smart again. But as I get ready to go practice my conflict skills, somebody who’s listening to us right now is like, man, I really want to dive into this more. What’s the best way for them to do that with you? How can they get more of Kristine?

Kristine Scott: Oh, thank you. My website is, and I love to have consultations with people. I do a 30 minutes consultation for free just to talk about what’s going on in your workplace. And are there surveys and online courses or things that I can offer for your team or for you personally that help you on your conflict path? Because the thing that I know about conflict is it will show you any place that you have an unhealed wound. It will bring it right up for you. So often, I just remind people like, hey, I will show you how to go on that path, but please do pull some other supports in for you. Make sure you’ve got some other good friends that are with you, because it is a great journey of growth and development.

Allegra Sinclair: Conflict will show you where you have unhealed wounds. That is a chewy taste. That’s a chewy tidbit right there. That sounds like a whole other episode. So if I’m just getting started with my conflict journey, I know that you have a tool or a course that will help you see where you have some blind spots, maybe, or where you can actually find some actionable steps for where you might not be doing as well with conflict as you’d like. Tell me about that again. I can’t remember what it’s called.

Kristine Scott: Oh, yeah, that is my conflict resolution course. It is basically an interactive training that is web based as a 1 hour training that you will learn right in the beginning which of the five conflict styles you might revert to when you’re not your best self and the video walks you through different situations and scenarios and you get to choose how you respond to those and learn as you go.

Allegra Sinclair: That is cool. So I didn’t even know there were five conflict styles. So this choose your own adventure, which sounds delicious. This choose your own adventure course helps you identify who you are in conflict and then gives you some suggestions for where to go from there. Is that right?

Kristine Scott: Yes, exactly.

Allegra Sinclair: Oh, that is amazing. Thank you so much for being here, Kristine. This has been soul shaking as I would say because it’s not something that we talk about a lot, right? People don’t want to talk about conflict. We want to pretend that there is none or that we can wave a magic wand and make it go away. But this is some really important meaty work for us to do here in order to be the leaders that we all want as we continue to work in all of our different workspaces. So thank you so much for being here in the show notes. And now we’re going to have links to your website and all the places that people can find you on social, as well as a link for this new choose your own adventure ecourse that you’re offering. Is there anything that you want to share with my audience that you haven’t had a chance to share yet?

Kristine Scott: Oh, no. I just really appreciate that. You’re right. Leadership and conflict management go hand in hand. If we want to grow as a leader, we get to do this too.

Allegra Sinclair: Thank you again to Kristine for joining us and pouring all that good knowledge in our ears about how we can become conflict resolutionaries. To get more information and the full show notes on this episode, visit conflict. That’s conflict. To find the full show notes and as well as links to all the resources that we mentioned in this episode, we will catch you next time. In the meantime, have a powerful day.

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Allegra M. Sinclair

Allegra M. Sinclair is a professional coach and confidence expert. She hates to see women living small and loves to help them change how they show up in the world.

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