Conflict Resolution and the Art of Working With Other People

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives. TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.

Today’s guests are Alise Cortez, Radio Show Host of “Working on Purpose” an Engagement and Development Catalyst and Edgar Papke, Speaker, Coach and Author of The Elephant in the Board Room. To hear the entire show, click here.

On the show today, two organizational experts discuss conflict resolution and the art of working with other people.

Alise Cortez conflict resolution

Alise Cortez is an Engagement and Development Catalyst. She helps individuals connect more meaningfully and productively with their work. She believes that we spend about two thirds of our time at work so it only makes sense to make it productive and interesting. She does professional and organizational development consulting via workshops and exercises. She is also hosts a radio show called ‘Working on Purpose.” The show discusses topics such as self-cultivation, engaged productivity and living life with meaningful work.


According to engagement surveys, the most important thing that people want at work is to feel valued and appreciated. Sometimes leadership becomes too strategic in approach and needs to be reminded that they work with people with heartbeats and emotions who need to be told that their contribution is valued. Leaders need to be able to see the talent and diversity among those around them and the uniqueness they bring to the organization. They need to figure out what motivates their people and how to help them grow their careers. According to Cortez, leaders also need to coach employees from time to time in order to develop their higher performance levels. This way everybody wins. Sometimes even a little greeting from the seniors goes a long way in making the employee feel valued. One of the things Cortez loves working on is leadership engagement and communication because it’s a huge part of how people can be productive and meaningful at work and it contributes to almost 80% of a person’s success.

Building Successful Teams

Cortez believes that the most essential ingredient for a successful team is trust. “You have to be able to create and sustain an environment of trust so that people know who you are and they believe whatever you say. Being transparent is one of the ways to instill trust in you and brings a level of authenticity,” she explains. Another important factor for successful teams is generating a two-way communication of respect. People respect each other and acknowledge the different talents they bring to the table. Cortez also firmly believes that a high performing team has to be diverse in terms of skills, perspectives, experiences and so on. A piece of advice she often gives managers is that they should always emphasize on coaching and making sure people under them grow. When their subordinates grow, managers also grow because they can delegate more responsibilities and in turn take up more high level work for themselves.

Dysfunctional Teams

Conflict is often one of the major reasons why some teams don’t function well together. It could be a conflict of personality or work style or something else. In order to get to conflict resolution, a manager or leader needs to have a one on one meeting with those people who don’t seem to get on board with the rest of the team members. They need to understand their perspective and figure out why they don’t get along with the rest. Sometimes there could be very valid points. They could be deep thinkers that the rest of team just doesn’t get. Whatever the scenario, they need to be heard even if the leader doesn’t agree with them. Leaders should also share their perspective of the situation and engage in a two-way dialogue. That way, the leader is also being transparent by conveying his or her personal concerns about the conflicted employees’ conduct. This exercise can coach the employees on how to work with the rest of the team and help them grow. At the same time, the leader can also set expectations and ground rules for the rest of the team and explain the other employees’ perspective. Finally, after these dialogues follows the mediation stage where the whole group comes together and all the issues are laid out in the open. All the misunderstandings can be discussed and clarified. Leaders need to work on their mediation skills so that they can tactfully handle heated situations.

What Are You Reading?

Alise Cortez is currently reading “It’s 6 a.m. and I’m Already Behind: 30 Strategies to Get Caught Up in a Crazy-Busy World” by Lauren Midgley. The book is all about increasing productivity and reducing stress in a busy world.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Alise via LinkedIn and Twitter @AliseCortez.

Edgar Papke conflict resolution

Edgar Papke is an executive coach, an author and a speaker. He primarily works with CEOs and executives. Most of his work is about aligning them with who they are as individuals, thus, helping them and their teams become more successful. He has been working in this field for over 25 years.

Papke has a very interesting background. He has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and used to work as an Executive Chef early on in his career. He believes that one of the best trainings for leaders is in the hospitality industry. After spending about a decade in the culinary world, he decided to leave it and spend more time with his family. During that time he took a number of career and personality assessments and they all pointed towards him becoming a psychologist, coach or trainer. This led him to go back to school and earn a degree in leadership psychology.

Being a Good Listener

Papke believes that the quality of being a good listener is something he practiced during his chef days and continues to carry it forward even in his current role. There is nothing that engages people more than listening to their ideas, asking questions and engaging with them. While leading the staff as a chef he used to listen to his co-workers ideas and ask them a lot of questions. He believes this quality helped him in a big way, both, in the culinary world as well as the coaching world. He loves asking questions and getting input from people and understanding what they think, see and feel.

Conflict Resolution

Papke is a regular speaker among CEOs and C-suite executives. One of the things that resonates with his audience is that while CEOs and leadership teams are looking at different parts of the business such as customer experience, market strategy or culture and leadership, Papke provides them with a framework that helps them bring it all together in one measurable way to create alignment in their organizations and teams. The other aspect that resonates with the senior executives is the level of conflict they engage in and how natural it is for leaders to engage in conflicts and be able to confront them successfully. Conflict resolution leads to innovation and higher levels of performance. The way the leadership manages conflict is the way the organization learns to manage it. According to Papke, it’s like a family system where the household sets the pattern in play as to how conflict is supposed to be dealt with. Thus, when CEOs and leaders decide to avoid conflicts, the rest of the organization begins to take it as a norm. It quickly permeates through teams and leads to conflicts not being dealt with and issues not being addressed which affects employee engagement in a big way.

The Elephant in the Boardroom

Last year, Papke authored the book “The Elephant in the Boardroom: How Leaders Use and Manage Conflict to Reach Greater Levels of Success.” The book is broken into three parts. The first part looks at the unique relationship that leaders have with conflict and the subsequent two parts talk about the idea of self-knowledge and self-awareness and how one should be very intentional in managing conflict. One of the things that the book really focuses on is how important it is to be fearless in one’s listening. According to Papke, the best work that his clients do is when they become really aware of how they’re listening because there’s no better way of creating one’s consciousness. By paying attention and actively exploring what someone else is saying and thinking about our response to it will lead to intellectual thinking. Thus, Papke figured that our ability to listen well influences our ability to be more conscious of who we are and how we’re responding to things. “This is key in any conflict situation because only then we can open up to understanding how other people may be thinking and seeing a situation in a completely different way. Thus, great listening is helpful in increasing one’s consciousness,” sums up Papke.

True Alignment

Papke has also authored another book called True Alignment: Linking Company Culture with Customer Needs for Extraordinary Results.According to Papke, business is the most advanced platform that we participate in as human beings. To understand how we’re motivated as people is at the heart of creating alignment. He believes that in business, we need to create products and services that respond to human motivation as well as the desires and needs that we have. “It allows us to be able to interpret in a very measurable way what motivates the customer. At a deeper level we should align the organization’s culture and internal behaviors with the customer experience and expectation,” he says. The book also looks at the role of leaders and leadership influence on culture, branding and customer experience.

What Are You Reading?

Edgar Papke recommends reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankindby Yuval Noah Harari. The book is about the history of mankind and it allows Papke to further see and interpret how his frameworks and models on business and organizations are very consistent with how we develop as human beings.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Edgar via LinkedIn or Twitter @EdgarPapke.