Clearing the Air: Conflict Resolution, Executive Coaching

Carol and Ted, senior members of the corporate counsel's office at a large company, contacted me after they had stopped speaking to each other following an internal management disagreement. During the last several months, their only communication had been via terse and hostile emails, and this was adversely affecting the work of the corporate counsel's office.

I suggested we meet together (something they did with considerable trepidation), and they agreed that their failure to communicate was adversely affecting the functioning of the office and that they were both highly motivated to address this issue. I then met individually with Ted and Carol to better understand the existing conflict, their personal concerns, and potential areas of agreement.

Thereafter, we again met together and they articulated the following goal for our work together: To be able to communicate with each other in a professional, respectful, and collaborative way. To achieve this goal, they each identified a specific project to work on with the members of their own separate functional team, and then communicate the results to each other in a structured, formal setting. This strategy had the dual benefits of improving the functioning of each team, while giving Ted and Carol a neutral and positive topic they could discuss with each other and with me. The exercise led naturally to improved communication, while Ted and Carol put the history of conflict behind them.

Results include resolution of the prior conflict and continually improving communication, both between Ted and Carol and within the office as a whole.     [back to case studies]