How Managers manage conflict

Conflict is inevitable – Combat is optional.

I love this line. This is the reality I want Managers to experience. However many perceive that conflict is inevitable, therefore combat is inevitable! This demonstrates why so many Managers avoid a tricky conversation. They assume that conflict equals combat and either circumvents conflict altogether or readies themselves for a fight.

Management Training like Inspiring Managers really helps Managera to handle difficult conversations. Here’s a few tips from the program to help you.

Positive or Negative Feedback

We label feedback and energise it with a positive or negative charge. It’s no surprise we want to avoid the negative. If you’re about to give ‘negative’ feedback the question arises (consciously or unconsciously) what’s in it for me? Not a lot, so many disengage or disregard. We become apathetic to conflict. This is a self-centred approach which lacks empathy. There is no place for ego in a performance conversation. In fact it’s not about you (the manager) at all. So stop labelling feedback and treat it as either constructive or not. For example:


Observation based evidence

Problem focused



Ego based

Interpretations and Judgments

Person focused



If you have your own interests at heart then conflict will rise not recede.

The Solution

Really try to understand how this conflict came about. Be objective and focus your attention on the problem not the person. Actively listen and when it is time to open your mouth make sure you talk about the behaviour rather than condemning any individual as ‘bad’. You can be candid and kind.

It’s simple, but not easy and Managers need training in this area. Inspiring Manager offers a full Management Training Program and we take a deep dive into effective feedback. It’s no wonder 70% of professionals don’t trust their Manager. That’s not because Managers are hopeless professionals, it’s because they’ve never been taught how to best handle these difficult conversations.





I’m not weird, you are!

I am getting worn down by the apathy of some people who can’t be bothered to communicate, are scared of human interaction or so lost in their own world that they’re wondering around the office, barely conscious.

I like to say hello to colleagues in the workplace. Some people I know and I’ll get a cheeky wink, a pleasant smile or a bit of banter. Other people I don’t know but still make the effort and it’s the latter who are the cause for this little blog.

I have checked to see if it’s just me. I’ve asked around for a sense check just to make sure I’m on firm ground here and I got a resounding thumbs up.

When I smile at you, say good morning and you look at me like I’m about to punch you….I’m not weird, you are.

When we’re in the lift together and I make a comment about the weather and you pretend you didn’t hear. Then we stand in awkward silence for the rest of the trip…I’m not weird, you are.

When I open the door for you and you walk through it like you’re Beyonce without a smile or a thank you…I’m not weird, you are.

Emotional Intelligence

It’s the difference between empathy and apathy. Empathy is thinking of others and apathy is disregard and indifference. Apathy is endemic in the workplace but the saddest part is, by shutting off empathy and being apathetic at work you actually switch off the very essence that makes you, the awesome being you really are.

Brene Brown said “we cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions we numb the positive emotions.”  So you see, I know you can love, be kind and belly laugh. I also know you can hurt, worry and cry in pain. Switching all that off at work doesn’t make you more of a professional, it actually makes you less of a human being. I hire people not robots and it’s no surprise that Elon Musk recently said that ‘humans are underrated.’


In our Inspiring Managers program I encourage participants to lean into life and connect with others. Strangers are friends you haven’t met yet. Of course there’s the occasional crazy but most folks are good people. You don’t have to switch on and off emotions at work. Learn emotional intelligence and master how to manage yourself and others.

Apart from the death penalty, the worst punishment we know of is solitary confinement. Yet many at work are condemning themselves to self-imposed solitary confinement by choosing not to make connections with others and therefore missing out on all that comes along with the gloriousness of togetherness.

Next time, say hello, smile, make eye contact and see what happens. You’ll either meet apathy and get what I’m on about OR you may meet empathy and experience the beginnings of genuine connection.


Awesome Managers have high EQs

I came across a study from PepsiCo showing that company units headed by Managers with well developed EQs out performed yearly revenue targets by between 15-20%. The exact opposite was true for underdeveloped Managers. Yet, time and time again I see professionals with a good to great IQ but a contained or poor EQ. I believe that’s because their environment naively rewards power over people and not people power.

To keep things simple, I see IQ as task oriented reasoning and objective logic compared with EQ, based around people orientated relationships, self awareness and managing emotions. We need both to be successful at managing others but the scales are still weighed down in favour of IQ, despite the overwhelming evidence.

A study of UC of Berkeley PhDs over 40 years found that EQ was four times more powerful than IQ in predicting who achieved success in their field.

Think about your Management team. How many could you honestly say have high EQs?

Managers have drifted into exclusive IQ waters as getting tasks done, achieving results and making a ton of cash is what business is all about, right?…except for one thing…we’re dealing with human beings. People need human contact (remember putting someone in solitary confinement is seen as a terrible punishment) yet we are condemning ourselves to self imposed solitary confinement. Now you understand the main article image.

To me, EQ (at work) is best examined by the amount of time a Manager spends with their reports. Great Managers are interested in their team members, are rarely too busy for a 121 and genuinely want to connect with their people.

‘High IQ low EQ’ Managers avoid interaction. There are a plethora of reasons why they choose not to engage with others. Some are understandable like being super busy or having been wronged by someone. However are they really legitimate explanations or just avoidance excuses. Daniel Goleman in his book, Emotional Intelligence called it an emotional malaise, like these:

The notion that some professionals are heartless is false (unless you’re a psychopath). Most people are actually people. Someone’s Dad, Mum, Sister, Cousin. They’ve loved and lost. They, we, you do feel stuff like feeling trusted, supported and valued. Managers/Leaders need to be highly attuned to this.

According to Norwich University things are getting worse as EQ scores among young people have fallen and average IQ scores have jumped. Therefore my mission is to help Managers and Leaders to understand the mechanics of being a great Manager but more importantly help them discover that by improving their EQ they’ll be at a place of outstanding business practice.

Impulsive emotions override reason. Therefore EQ is critical to success.

Matthew Davies is the Founder of and delivers Management and Leadership Training to many businesses around the world.

Leadership and Management Training Online

It’s time to get real about Leadership and Management Training courses. Neuroscience tells us that one or two day training sessions are a waste of money as we don’t store memories we grow them!

When I talk to HR Directors about their experience of day courses I have not found one leader who said that they were able to store all the information. Our brains are not built for consuming mass amounts of data. What happens to a ton of information? Well it floods our brain and seeps away again. Just like a heavy rainfall.

Management Training That Works

This quote really makes real sense to me:

‘A river doesn’t cut through a rock because of its strength, rather it’s persistence.’

Delivering bitesize content over a period of time, that can be put into a relevant context, is super important to success. Management Trainees or New Managers not only need management training that is short and sharp but also can be relevant to their business practice. Allowing them time to trial any learnings at work and then iterate on those learnings over a period of time is crucial to making an impact.

So forgive me if I get twitchy over the traditional way that courses have been delivered but as an Learning and Development Geek it’s time to drip content over weeks and even months and not depend on a one day event. Instead  embrace new pathways like VR environments that we use in our course.

I’m absolutely convinced that using technology to disrupt live one off events and seriously dull online experiences is the way forward to create meaningful learning interventions that spur learners to make changes and improve their business practice.

Written by Matthew Davies. Founder of