vPsychology for Business

We are dedicated to bringing out the best in you and your employees

Volume 4, Number 5                                                                                         March 7, 2003


Psychology for Business is a free e-mail newsletter written by Dr. Lynda DahlkeDr. Paul Glass, and Dr. John Weaver,  business psychologists and independent consultants. It is published bi-weekly. You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to it or it was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague. To subscribe sign up at our website, http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/.  If you wish to unsubscribe, please see the end of this e-mail for easy instructions

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by Dr. Lynda Dahlke, Business Psychologist and Executive Coach

Peace is a controversial topic these days, especially as it refers to international relationships.  Some believe conflict (in a military sense) is never to be used; however some see it as a necessary strategy to preserve peace in a larger sense.  In the wake of impassioned public opinion, many of us are looking inside to examine our beliefs regarding conflict and conflict resolution. 

 On a recent trip to NYC I had a very slow ride into the city from the airport due to a large peace rally.  The news coverage depicted protesters “slugging” police officers as well as dragging down horses.  Newscasts also carried reports of alleged police brutality toward protesters.  While many involved in these protests and in counter-protests were able to express their views clearly as part of a large group, I have found that many do not confront conflict on a personal level at work and at home.  Willingness to consistently confront conflict or to deal with “differences of opinion” on a one to one basis is not common in many organizations.  It is much easier to express dissenting views when you know support is readily available, as when your team or department disagrees with another team or department.  On the other hand, when it comes to one on one interaction, many of us have no backbone!

The cost of conflict avoidance can be great, yet difficult to measure. How often does it happen that an individual spends time, effort and even capital, embarking on a “mission” their boss has designed when they KNOW it will not work?  How many times do people go back to their desks shaking their heads and saying either to himself or herself or anyone in earshot that “we are heading in the wrong direction”?  Why do these individuals not say anything while the conversation is happening?  Why do these individuals not say anything later when thy have had a chance to think and have confirmed their initial “gut” reaction that the idea is not a good one”?  There are some legitimate times to keep your opinion to yourself- some ineffective leaders believe they know best and do not want input from others. OK.  I know that can happen, but it happens even when leaders have made it CLEAR they need and want input from others.  WHY?     

 In the end, the leader may not take ideas from others.  They may still embark on their original path, but at least alternatives will have been considered.  Why then, do we hesitate to confront others?  Why do some of us prefer a slow, painful death or terminal disease to confronting conflict?

The problem of conflict avoidance is real and rampant. The cost can be tremendous.  I have seen individuals leave their job, rather then confront someone with a legitimate issue.  I have seen money spent on personnel, equipment or training that did not work out and potentially could have been avoided if someone were self-confident enough to state their view.

 Why don’t we?

The reasons for conflict avoidance include:

 Are you conflict avoidant ?

 Ask yourself these questions:

 What is your “history” with conflict?

What is your comfort level with conflict? 

Can you think of a time when you wish you had spoken up in a disagreement? 

How do you feel when you hear others arguing? 

Take an honest look at your comfort level with conflict.  Is there room for improvement? 

Strategies for improving your tolerance of conflict and using conflict to improve effectiveness 

Identify and evaluate the “myths” you developed regarding conflict; conflict + anger = bad 

Discuss your conflict “style” with a trusted friend, coach or mentor and decide if you want to change it. 

Try confronting some smaller less emotional issues with colleagues, leaders: 

Read some material on assertiveness and practice in “safe” situations: 

Be open to having others disagree with you without taking it personally: 

Present your disagreement without being negative

If someone annoys you and really knows how to “push your buttons”, try and disarm them: 

Conflict in and of itself is not bad.  As a matter of fact, it is your responsibility to voice your opinions, especially if there is much at stake.  Learning to confront professionally, and respectfully are key to becoming more effective in our professional and personal lives.  Letting conflict “go underground” (which is exactingly where it goes if not put on the table) can incur devastating costs to organizations in terms of morale, personnel, productivity, and financially. 

Expressing yourself as part of a group is important, yet learning to have the courage to voice your opinions independently can enhance your effectiveness.  Be a part of the group, but own your opinions in individual interactions.  

So, where is your head when conflict surfaces?  If it is in the sand, get it out or you may find yourself in a very vulnerable position!


About the Author

Lynda Dahlke, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and business consultant with over 20 years of practical experience working with individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds and levels of responsibility. She excels at delivering concise, actionable guidance and recommendations. Lynda specializes in pre-employment assessment, professional coaching, conflict management, assisting organizations to work with difficult individuals and personalities and organizational diagnostics/consulting.

Based in Waukesha, WI, Dr. Lynda Dahlke is available for consultation or coaching by phone, e-mail or in person. She may be reached at (262) 789-2728 (office), by e-mail at

Lynda Dahlke, Ph.D.
Psychology for Business
200 South Executive Drive, #101
Brookfield, WI 53005-4216

Did you know that executive coaching is not geographically limited?  Coaching by telephone is effective.  It is also an efficient use of time and resources.  You never need to leave your office to travel, nor do you need to pay travel expenses for your coach. We offer coaching either onsite or by telephone. To find out if coaching is right for you, contact us to schedule a FREE 1/2 hour consultation.  Or request a price sheet to determine the best value for your organization.  Call us at: (262) 789-2728 or email us at mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com.


10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Coach is now available for download at no charge to readers of PSYCHOLOGY FOR BUSINESS by clicking on the title or visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/questions.htm.

Also receive your copy of  9 Ways to Motivate Your Workforce by clicking on the title or visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/motivate.htm

If you are interested in having Dr. Weaver speak for your organization, contact him at mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com?subject=SPEAK .


To order your copy of the book, MANAGING DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE: A Manager’s Practical Guide, by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, send your name, address, number of copies desired and a check made out to Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass for $12 per book (plus $2 shipping per book).  Or order 10 or more copies for $10 per book and $6.95 for shipping (up to 50 copies).  No fluff, this book gets right to the point. Send orders to:

Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188   

Email: mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com

To order the booklet: 41 WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF YOUR WORKPLACE, by Dr. John Weaver send a check for $6 and a self-addressed, double stamped business size envelope to:

Dr. John Weaver
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188

If you would like to order multiple copies, send an email to mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com to request a price sheet.  Order in quantity and save.


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If you would like to learn more about Dr. Lynda Dahlke (mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com), Dr. Paul Glass (mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com), and Dr. John Weaver (mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com) please visit us at our website: http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/.

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Lynda Dahlke. Distribution rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. If you would like to reprint part of this newsletter please contact me at mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com to make arrangements.


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Dr. John Weaver publishes another newsletter, co-authored by Darlene Weaver, THE CENTERED PENDULUMIt is our firm belief that lifelong patterns of “being” (personality, attitudes, emotions) and “doing” (lifestyle, adaptability, coping skills) interact with our genes and environment to create conditions of a healthy or a diseased brain.  If you would like to read previous issues of the Centered Pendulum newsletter or to subscribe, please visit the archives at http://www.centeredpendulum.org/newsletters.htm.