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5 Ways to Transform a Toxic Workplace

There are times where you can be facing a power battle in a toxic workplace. It is a tough time when that is going on. You can feel torn between going against your values and toeing the line or standing up for your values and faces waves of resistance.

Healing toxic workplaces
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Today I offer you these snippets to release the toxicity and reclaim some of your inner power.  

Refocus your power.

Now look we could start this process by searching around, pointing fingers, throwing blame around. Look for who the wrongdoers are and then what? Stand up and point out what is wrong. 

The problem here is that often everyone thinks that they are right, and blame often clouds the way through. 

Refocus your power to avoid toxicity in the workplace
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The other part of this is petitioning others to come in and fight your battle. And while this is an essential part of bringing change, it can’t be the only way as waiting for someone else to make it all better often doesn’t feel very empowering. 

So before you go down the obvious path to create change, let’s focus your inner power first. Then seeking support to help change the toxicity will work in a very different way.  And doing it without blame, that is truly powerful. 

Clear your inner toxicity.

Let’s look at what you can do to clear the toxic stuff going on around you:

To do this, we start with expanding inner strength and positivity. 

One of the ways we get dragged down into the toxic workplace environment is by meeting it at its grotty level. How about trying this: Before we even set foot in the door, build up a strong sense of inner strength.

Now, this process is different for everyone. That might be: 

  • Going for a run or other exercise
  • Doing power posses 
  • Doing meditation (I like something heart-based for this like loving-kindness meditation (meta) or heart coherence.
  • Visualisation
  • Journaling (I like to start with the line “I chose to know and believe…”)

And there are many more. Find your way to start your day on a high so that you can walk into work fully charged.

Using anger as it is designed to be used.

One of the ways to transform a toxic workplace is to do activities that help alleviate the mind.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Anger is a powerful emotion. It isn’t there to challenge our self-mastery (although when out of check it can be great for that). What our anger is trying to tell us is usually that one of our boundaries has been crossed.  And when I say boundaries, I mean, crossed a line that isn’t ok with us. 

So when our anger alert has sounded, we have an opportunity to do two things. 

The first is the question of our boundary or line in the sand of ok. So whatever boundary has been crossed, ask:

  • Is this boundary reasonable?
  • What does this boundary protect/support/enable?
  • Am I willing to compromise this boundary?

Once you are clear on that, the next step is to look at how are you going to defend that boundary. Now, this is where a bit of anger (not too much or it can overwhelm you) can come in handy as it helps you speak up. 

  • What are you going to do or say to stand up for what you believe is crossing a boundary

Related article: Workplace Culture Matters & Here’s The Reasons Why

Choose constructive communication over gossip in a toxic workplace.

I know how frustrating it is to be in a toxic environment, but blowing off steam is like adding full to the fire.  We all need to talk about it when things are hard, but to be stuck in discussing a litany of problems is adding to the toxicity. Instead, after looking at what isn’t working, ask:

  • What can I do to make this better?
  • What are the positives I can see in this?
  • Where are they coming from?

Start the reconciliation process.

From a workplace level, it is crucial to start the reconciliation process. 

Reconciliation has three stages:

  1. Understand the different viewpoints and what each group needs. There needs to be a healing process around this, especially where things have got nasty.
  2. Creating a safe dialogue to create a combined vision and action plan to move forward in a morally respectful way.
  3. Build-in processes so that all involved can heal starting with a strong circle of safety, blame-free workplace culture, and a healthy support system. 

Working through conflict in a way that heals, builds understanding, and creates agreed values at the same time as setting up future support and approaches to working together is key to creating a sustainable cultural improvement. 

Everyone in the workplace is adding to the energy of the culture. Real change happens when everyone commits to doing their part to build a connection throughout the workplace. And that can start with one person. It can start today with you.

Originally published on SmallVille

Using Five Layers of Empathy to Enhance Your Success

Empathy in teams

Water flows down an ambling river, curving, moving around all that is in its path. Softly caressing all that it passes along its way. Empathy is a bit like that water. It flows between people, connecting them, soothing them, cleansing them. It builds trust, connection, and has that amazing ability to clean away feelings of shame. While it may seem like a soft skill, just like the river, it can gain momentum and volume and can become an unstoppable power.

While the importance of empathy is gaining kudos in the realm of emotional intelligence (EI), its role in helping your organisation be more successful and profitable is still not fully realised. I believe that the effect that empathy can have on success is something to get really excited about.

Customer Empathy 

Think about what an ‘average customer’ might be feeling before, during and after they make the choice to invest in what you are offering. What do you think their experience would be like? What problems are you solving for them? And what is the biggest thing that they are getting from the experience? What values and desires is this meeting, or not meeting, for them? Take a few minutes to imagine walking in their shoes.

What your organisation creates, whether a product or a service, is created by you for someone else. How much empathy do you have you for them? Do you think about their experience of getting and using what you have created? Have you ever really put yourself in their shoes? Maybe you have. Maybe you haven’t.

Organisational Empathy

Now, and this is the bit where the success part comes in, how could you make their experience better? This is birthing innovations from a place of empathy.

Team Empathy

Let’s think of empathy like a yacht out in the ocean, the ocean of workplace dynamics. It is the place where it is safe, as opposed to swimming on your own in the ocean. A place where you are safe from the sharks, from being pulled under by big waves. It is the same in your team. Empathy creates a safe space. A safe space means that your team can put their energy into creation and hard work rather than into staying afloat and protecting themselves.

Now imagine — imagine what your team could be creating if they were in that kind of environment. How much more could you be getting done if everyone felt understood and validated?

Stakeholder Empathy

What if we now apply this thinking to the stakeholders. Your board, your shareholders and investors. Often it feels like there is conflict between what stakeholders want and what the team wants. Two-way empathy can be a powerful way to bridge the gap and find creative ways to build more support between these two groups.

What are the current conflicts between your stakeholders and your team? How are their values different? Start looking at it and see where there are bridges of empathy that can bring more alignment.


We have all heard the expression ‘to stand in someone else’s shoes’. To imagine what another’s experience is, and feel that without judgement, is powerful and connecting stuff. Where empathy doubles in power is where it becomes a two-way street. I have empathy for you, you have empathy for me. Now, while you may be very good at standing in another’s shoes, a skill that is often forgotten is the other side, the ability to stand in your own shoes.

Can you see your own feelings and experiences as valid?

Can you view yourself without judgement?

Can you have an open mind with yourself?

Being able to see yourself with empathy makes it easier for others to connect with you. It allows an inner honesty that can breed trust in your workplace.

Community Empathy

The last place that can boost your success through empathy, is having empathy for the communities that your organisation is part of. That may be one community or many. These communities are like the soil that your business grows in. If you understand what the community needs, how it feels about your organisation growing within it, then you can build a clear strategy of how to feed it. Just as we feed our soil to grow amazing food, we can feed the communities that we operate in and that will support your business to grow.

Expanding your idea and use of empathy is an endless practice. It will form a solid base to the way you connect, that will lead to greater success. And it is a practice. Start with a little more, and then a little more. Start using it in new relationships, in new social dynamics. Play with it. Where does it lead you?

Workshop with Trish Everett

Trish Everett is a highly qualified communications consultant and mindset coach. She specialises in helping organisations build connected, innovative and success-orientated cultures in order to reduce costs and improve workforce productivity and effectiveness. 

The Secret Ingredient To Fixing Disharmony That No-One Talks About

Strengthening your team after conflict

The culture of our workplaces is a bit like our waterways. When the water are flowing everyone feels nourished, productivity is up, profits are growing, and the creative beauty makes it all look sparkly. Everything is blooming. When things go wrong, we have a dried up flow, it feels like we are walking through mud and nothing is thriving.  

When we look to improve workplace culture, the solutions tend to be around analysing, training and sometimes to coach leaders. Systems sometimes get changed, and teams sometimes get restructured. Now all of these things help. I have seen it myself. Together these approaches are a powerful combination. The one thing that is often missing is healing.

All of that disharmony that has been going on, it brings hurts. For your organisation, it hurts your success, your ability to serve your purpose and your people. And for your team, it goes deeper than that. This disharmony can cut them personally, especially if there has been a culture of shame and blame running rampant. 

The secret ingredient is healing. Your people need to heal as individuals and as a team. The ‘suck it up and move on’ approach may work today, but when something comes up again, then the old hurt will surface and you will be back to square one. 

Healing Workplace Disharmony
Photo by Mark Basarab

Take a moment now to think of your organisation or your team as a stream. Each person is part of it. I invite you to take a moment to think of your team this way. I like to close my eyes and imagine a stream in my head. Let the stream you see be a metaphor or a symbol of your team. 

  • Does your stream have healthy banks, rich with vegetation? (Is your team supported?)
  • How is the flow? (how is productivity?)
  • What is the shape or the stream? Is it all together or does it spread out or fork? (how well does your team work together?)
  • What is the quality of the water (clear, murky, drinkable, fresh, polluted?) (What is the morale of your team?)
  • Is the stream supporting life? (if your team creating success)
  • How did you go? Did you close your eyes and let yourself imagine the stream of your team? If not, you could spend a minute and do it right now.

Ok so you have had a look at the stream of your team – Let’s get questioning.

  • What did the stream look like? 
  • Where does it need to be healed?

Now with that symbol held lightly, let’s look at the healing that your team needs.

Support and Boundaries

  • What can you do to create support? 
  • Do you have all the structures and procedures that help people to feel safe? 
  • Where are the safe spaces that your team can voice their concerns?
  • What does your teams want in terms of support?

Flow and productivity

  • What gets in the way of productivity for your team? (interruptions, distractions, business, lack of support, lack of clarity etc…)
  • What do you do to support your team to have productive time blocks?

Team Togetherness

  • How do meetings run?
  • Who is vocal, who doesn’t like to speak up?
  • What blocks collaboration?

Team Morale

  • How happy is everyone on your team at the moment?
  • What are they enjoying about work at the moment?
  • Which things are they finding challenging?
  • What are the challenging personal dynamics at the moment?
  • What is polluting the team dynamics?

Team Success

  • What is polluting the team dynamics?
  • How valued do your team members feel?
  • How is success celebrated in your team?

These questions are great to keep in mind when talking with your team as a whole and with individual team members. They create an excellent frame for understanding what is happening with your team and where the healing needs to happen. 

 It is about giving the space of your team to heal.

 It is about giving the space of your team to heal.  Here are three ideas on how to do that:

Empathy circles

In small groups, listen with empathy to each other. Each person gets a turn to speak, and then everyone lets them know what they have heard they need. It is a powerful process. If emotions are still high, it is great to do this with the support of a facilitator.


Coaching for each person in the team can help them to see what has happened from a more empowered perspective as well as help them to create a plan to heal.


Meditation can be a profound way to bring healing to your whole team. You may like to do the stream visualisation as an entire team for example. 


Healing your team after a time of disharmony can be a beautiful experience for leaders and team members alike. And it isn’t just about moving past the fallouts of the past; it is about strengthening your team members so together you are ready to face anything.

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Three Surprising Ways To Work With A Bullying Boss

Dealing with aBullying Boss
Photo by Desola Lanre-Ologun on Unsplash

Dealing with bullying bosses, narcissists or bosses who pick on their team members can be really rough. If you are dealing with this you may feel disempowered, like there is no way forward. At the same time as experiencing high levels of stress from keeping afloat in a workplace that is like being in an emotional war zone. The default position here is to blame the boss for their behaviour and look to change them so that this doesn’t continue to happen. While there are steps that you can take to help them to see how their actions affect others, we are going to look at it from a different approach.

I would like to offer you three other ways to work with this kind of situation. 

Empowered ownership

You and your boss have created this situation together. I know that those words may be already sparking resistance, I ask you to bear with me. Each interaction that you have with your boss sparks an emotional response in you. And it is often a heavier one, sadness, anger, fear-based emotions, all rise up from your dealings with them. By putting empowered ownership into play here, you take full responsibility for that feeling. You boss hasn’t caused that emotion, they have simply been the stimulus for it. Let’s put it this way, your emotional reaction to your boss is your internal road map letting you know how, what they have done, sits with you. 

Look at your emotional reaction like you look at a road map.

At the point that you have an emotional reaction to something your boss (or anyone in your life for that matter) does, you have a couple of ways that you could go. The first option is to blame your boss for your reaction. If you go this way, you will find yourself saying things like, ‘he makes me so angry’ or ‘she is so annoying’ or you may find that you start using victim language like ‘he belittles me’ or ‘she attacks me’. While these may seem like very normal things to say, they are giving you a hint that you are in fact putting yourself in a powerless position.

The other option is to own your emotion response fully. Going down this track, you will look at your emotional reaction like you look at a road map. You will use your emotions to figure out how their behaviour sits with you and then use that information to move forward. For example, if your reaction is anger, that may mean that you need better boundaries, or that you have a need to protect something or someone. Owning that you have these requirements and acting from that place is a more powerful approach. 

Powerful and powerless

Photo by Thomas Willmott on Unsplash

So what do I mean by each of these approaches being powerless and powerful? In the first approach, the one of blaming them for how you feel. The moment that you believe that someone else is responsible for how you feel, the moment you do that, you have given away the power to change it. You then walk into the murky water of needing to change them. It is giving them the power of dictate how you are going to feel. That is not an empowered place. 

On the other hand. If you take full responsibility for how you feel, then you have full power to make changes. So instead just needing your boss to change, you look at how your emotions are guiding you. Then you start to ask more questions like what would make this ok with me, what do I need to do to improve this situation. It may mean looking for changes with your boss, but they come into a big picture and blame-free approach. 

Everyone is a Leader

Leadership isn’t a position; it is a mindset and a way of being. If your manager isn’t displaying the leadership qualities that you would hope for, then a powerful approach not to let that stop you from showing and modelling them. So, if you want acknowledgement and appreciation, then show those same qualities to your boss and your peers, if you want communication to improve, make an effort to listen to others and also speak up when you have something to say. And if you don’t want to be criticised, don’t criticise others.  You know the expression, kill them with kindness. Well filling your actions and thoughts with positivity and good deeds have enormous power. 

Leadership isn’t a position; it is a mindset and a way of being.

Now if that just sounds like sugar coating mouldy behaviours, let’s look a little deeper. If your boss is throwing around blame, that means that they are not coming from an empowered place. If they see fault in you, they probably see fault in themselves. The cycle of blame and blah needs to stop somewhere. And why not with you. And whether things change with your boss your not, if you can make your thoughts and actions more empowered, more positive and more aligned with who you want to be, well that sounds better than any change you could make happen in someone else. 

The best thing that you can do for yourself, your team and your future is not to frame yourself in the mindset of the victim. No one can make you feel like a victim except you, and on the other side of that coin, no-one can empower you except you. 

This article was originally publish on Smallville

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