Managing conflict

Listen to some people trying to resolve a dispute at work with the help of a mediator.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.


Mike: OK, Craig and Gavin, I realise that there have been some problems between you recently, and I'd like to try and sort them out right now. Gavin, can you tell me why you think this problem has arisen now?

Gavin: You're asking me!? I really have no idea. I mean, I came into this job a year ago with a special project to do. I had a very positive attitude. I was excited about it and Craig's just blocked me all along …

Craig: Well, that's not fair at all! That's just not true!

Mike: OK, OK, one second. Can everyone speak one at a time, please? Gavin, go on …

Gavin: Well, that's about it really. I've never felt as if I've been welcomed here. I mean, when I walk into the office, the others don't even say hello to me …

Craig: That's just not true! It's you who doesn't say hello!

Mike: Craig, please! Gavin, can you tell me why you think this situation may have arisen?

Gavin: Well, as I said, I've really no idea. Perhaps it's just my style – I'm very positive, energetic and outgoing, while everyone else here seems to be half-asleep.

Mike: Erm, listen, I don't think that personal, judgemental comments like that help. Can we just stick to facts rather than opinions?

Gavin: OK. Well, I could see right away that some changes needed making here, so I set about making those changes.

Mike: And was that part of your job description?

Gavin: Job description! Job description! That's all I ever hear round here. That's the problem with this place … there’s no initiative, no energy.

Mike: Hmm, OK. Craig, would you like to tell us what you feel the problem is?

Craig: Well, I think it's quite clear, isn’t it? Him! That's it!

Mike: OK, as I said, can we keep away from personal comments here and stick to talking about the workplace.

Craig: Well, I am talking about the workplace! He doesn't respect the limits of what he's supposed to do. He came in here for a one-year project, but has then tried to change the way everyone else works as well.

Mike: Gavin? Can you respond to that?

Gavin: Well, my project involved everyone else! It was impossible to do what I had to do without getting other people to rethink the way they work.

Mike: OK, I think that personality issues are crucial here.

Gavin/Craig: (murmurs of agreement)

Mike: Personality issues are the most difficult things to change. Perhaps we'll never be able to resolve them. You are different people with different personalities and different ways of working.

Gavin: And so?

Mike: Well, that doesn't mean the problem can't be solved. We have to be flexible, accept change and be tolerant of difference.

Craig: Easy to say!

Mike: Well, yes, it is easy to say, but difficult to do! I don't deny that. However, what we need to do is review your project and look at everyone's roles and responsibilities in the project and in this organisation as a whole. If everyone sticks to and respects other people's roles and responsibilities, then we can at least settle on a good, constructive working atmosphere.

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Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

Submitted by wilson3827 on Sun, 31/07/2022 - 21:45


I've realised that every time I get into trouble in my work is due to lack of communication. I recommend touching base with your boss every once in a while; otherwise, there are going to arise many problems.

Submitted by sunomo on Wed, 02/03/2022 - 01:06


I don't have many conflicts at work. Sometimes it's really hard to find a common solution that everyone would support.

Submitted by yangtinh on Mon, 22/11/2021 - 10:08


As Mike said that different people with different personalities therefore conflicts are inevitable. Sometimes everything explodes leading to discussion such Mike, Gavin and Graig did. However, I think most of the cases are implicit conflicts. Those are hard to detect but proposing more severe bad results. Because those are not discovered no one will try to resolve it, so those will impact long-term to the organization. If your team has many people with high competitive personalities it will be very hard to create win-win results. Most of the cases will be win-lose, even worse than that is lose-lose

Submitted by Maxim Rykov on Mon, 01/11/2021 - 18:49


In order to achieve a favorable atmosphere, one must first of all respect and treat each other with understanding, regardless of what position he is in and what role this or that employee plays in the project. You need to be a patient person when doing your job, while correct well-established communication is important (you need to have good communication skills) between employees of all levels, this is the only way to achieve the desired result in the project. After all, the personal factor is of great importance. in the workplace, it is better to resort to the help of a manager, since this is one of his tasks - team cohesion. It is better to solve all problems immediately on the spot, with understanding listening to the discontent of other parties, and this can be done outside the work environment too. You should not be silent and tolerate if something is not pleasant to you, so that it does not develop into something more serious. You need to maintain the necessary social level in the group, so that each project participant wants to work for the benefit of the organization's goals. A strong team is the key to success. !

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Sat, 10/07/2021 - 03:13

I don't have a job, so I don't manage conflicts at work. However, I think I deal with conflicts in my teamwork from university. Recently, I have been dealing with a conflict, so let me explain you: Yesterday, a girl who was a member of my teamwork for New Trends in International Business Management sent me a message which was about her apologize for not helping with the project and I said her that the project was already finished. However, I didn't say that I had included her name in the project, so I think she thought that her name was in the project. After that, the others members of the teamwork started discussing if they want to include her in the project, so we decided to do a survey and the majority voted "no". I mean the bulk of my teamwork don't want to include her in the project. They said that she didn't deserve to be part of the project despite the fact that she prayed us to include her we thought that is was not fair.

Submitted by Loc Dang on Sun, 02/06/2019 - 04:49

In task 3, the first result is: I really have no idea, hower, in the transcript, the sentence is: I've really no idea. Is there any difference between the written and verbal sentences?
Hello Loc Dang, There is no difference in meaning. It can be difficult to include contractions in exercises like this so we often use full words instead. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team