Strategies for Workplace Conflicts | Queen's University IRC

Queen's University IRC

Queen's University

Strategies for Workplace Conflicts

LR 201
3 Credits

Practical and Effective Conflict Resolution Skills for Managing Everyday Workplace Disputes

(Formerly Dispute Resolution Skills)

Every workplace experiences conflicts. How we respond to and handle these issues is an important measure of our effectiveness as managers and leaders.

Strategies for Workplace Conflicts focuses on how managers and leaders approach common workplace disputes in a constructive and effective way. Using case studies, hands-on exercises and small group work, participants will learn how to anticipate and better understand the dynamics of recurrent workplace conflicts. This highly interactive program features multiple exercises that build on one another as well as extended opportunities to practice different intervention strategies and conflict resolution skills in the context of common everyday workplace interactions. 

Tour of the Program

Our program includes discussions, case studies, role play and reflective exercises to develop skills that you can apply directly in your workplace.

a) Understanding conflict

Learn how to distinguish between different sources of conflict and what motivates people in conflict through discussion, interactive presentations and simulation exercises. We’ll discuss interpersonal conflict and the impact of gender, culture and generational dynamics. You’ll also learn about the conflict triggers that result in escalation, and tools to help improve interpersonal communication.

b) Difficult conversations, difficult people

We all sometimes avoid conflict. Sometimes the issue is sensitive or hard to raise, and sometimes the individual(s) involved are especially difficult to deal with. We’ll examine why certain types of conflict are challenging and discuss different approaches for having difficult conversations, especially with difficult people. You’ll also learn how group dynamics in team meetings can both work to escalate, and de-escalate, organizational conflict.

c) Coaching

Coaching prepares and hopefully empowers an individual to get focused on how to better deal with an interpersonal conflict. We’ll teach you how to prepare people to have difficult conversations and to take constructive approaches to resolving conflicts. 

d) Group conflict

Some of the most difficult conflicts arise within teams, and sometimes between teams or units. We’ll talk about how to identify early problems with team collaboration, and how to evaluate whether the source of a team problem is a particularly difficult individual, or a lack of direction and leadership, interpersonal conflict, perhaps an organizational issue - or something else.  

e) Structural conflict

Your organization structure may be unintentionally contributing to interpersonal, group and intergroup conflict. We’ll review several potential structure sources of conflict – for example, how decisions over bonuses get made, or how co-ordination takes place between two units or team - and discuss how to focus on what can (and not what cannot) be changed.

Learning Outcomes

Learn how to:

  • Respond to different types of online, interpersonal and inter-team conflicts
  • Manage conversations with especially difficult or emotional people
  • Identify specific implications of different types of conflict
  • Understand, prevent and de-escalate digital media conflicts
  • Handle spontaneous conflictual interactions
  • Analyze whether your organizational structure is contributing to conflict


Organizational Benefits

  • An enhanced capacity to deal with everyday work conflicts using proven strategies
  • Skills to understand, prevent and de-escalate personal and digital media conflicts
  • Coaching tips for guiding team members to take a constructive approach to conflict
  • Approaches to raising difficult issues
  • Skills and tools for handling spontaneous conflict situations
  • Tools and processes for working with team conflicts, and developing an effective response
  • Analysis to help you assess whether organizational structures may be contributing to conflict in your workplace

Takeaway Tools

  • Conflict manual with toolkit
  • Dynamics of Conflict by Bernard Mayer
  • Action and analysis checklists
  • Sample agreements and protocols

Who Should Attend

  • HR and LR professionals
  • Managers
  • Labour leaders
  • Lawyers and mediators
  • Employees who would like to learn how to deal with conflict more productively

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

Bernie Mayer

Bernie Mayer is a Professor of Conflict Studies in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.  He is also a founding partner at CDR Associates, based in Boulder, Colorado. Since the late 1970s, Bernie has mediated or facilitated the resolution of labour management, public policy, ethnic, business, family, community, and intergovernmental conflicts.

Bernie is internationally recognized as a trainer and an innovative leader in applying mediation and conflict resolution to human service arenas and particularly to disputes between public agencies and involuntary clients. He has consulted on conflict management procedures and trained mediators, negotiators, and...

Read the full bio for Bernie Mayer

Julie Macfarlane

Dr. Julie Macfarlane is Distinguished Professor and Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Windsor. She is an active mediator, and consults regularly on conflict resolution interventions, training, program evaluation and systems design for a range of public and private sector clients. Over the past 25 years, she has provided conflict intervention training for legal practitioners, law students, civil servants, union and management groups, aboriginal council members, legal aid workers and health care professionals.

Julie has received a number of professional honours in the course of her career, including the David Mundell Medal for Legal Writing (2016), two Canadian Law Blog Awards (CLAWBIEs,...

Read the full bio for Julie Macfarlane

Guest Speaker(s)

Kari Boyle

Kari D. Boyle is a conflict engagement practitioner, consultant, trainer and retired lawyer. She served as Executive Director of Mediate BC Society for ten years followed by one year as its Director of Strategic Initiatives. She enjoys using her legal, mediation and management experience to improve citizens’ access to viable and affordable conflict management options. Previously, she practiced corporate commercial litigation in Vancouver for 14 years, worked in-house for 6 years specializing in legal services management, led mediation research initiatives at UBC, served as an adjunct professor at UBC Law School and provided support to the Civil Justice Reform Working Group and the initiative to create a new set of...

Read the full bio for Kari Boyle

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

Oct 30- Nov 1, 2018 - Toronto

Queen's University IRC is proud to present this program at The Old Mill Inn, located at 21 Old Mill Road, Toronto. Please contact the Inn directly for rate information and to book your accommodation. Phone 1-866-653-6455 or visit the Inn's web site at

Apr 30-May 2, 2019 - Kingston

The program venue has not been finalized. Queen's IRC programs are usually held at a hotel. Please check back at a later date or contact Queen's IRC at 1-888-858-7838 for additional information.

Nov 19-21, 2019 - Halifax

The program venue has not been finalized. Queen's IRC programs are usually held at a hotel. Please check back at a later date or contact Queen's IRC at 1-888-858-7838 for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for a program?

You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at Once you register, we will send you a confirmation by email. Information about the program location, check-in time, and the agenda will follow.

How do I pay for the program?

If you are registering online, you may pay by Visa or MasterCard.  You may also choose to be invoiced first, and pay by cheque (payable to Queen's IRC) or credit card. You may also wish to call us with your credit card number to make the payment.

If your organization is tax exempt, we will require a copy of your tax exemption certificate.

Do you offer discounts?

Yes. We offer an Early-Bird discount.  If you register and pay 60 days before the start of a program, you will save $300 on the tuition of four- and five-day programs, and $150 on two- and three-day programs.

If you register three people from the same organization in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 10% discount on program fees. If you register five or more people in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount.

If you know you will be pursuing a Queen's Certificate and would like to remit tuition in one payment before your first program, we offer a special fee with a considerable saving. Contact us at for more information.

Please note that only one discount may be applied.

What is included in the registration fee?

Program fees include tuition, workbook materials, lunches, and some dinners. You are responsible for transportation, accommodation, and some meals.

Once I enroll in a program, may I cancel without penalty?

Substitutions are permitted with no penalty at any time. Transfers and cancellations are permitted with no penalty up to 3 weeks prior to the program start date. There will be a $500 fee charged for cancellations, transfers, and no-shows within 3 weeks of the program start date.

Where does the program take place?

Our programs typically take place at a hotel. This information can be found in the tab above, called Venue and Accommodations.

I would like to make my travel plans. What are the start and end times for the program?

Strategies for Workplace Conflicts starts at 8:30 a.m. on the first day. (Registration runs from 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.)

The program finishes at 5:00 p.m. on the last day.

If I am working towards a Queen's IRC Certificate, which course should I take first?

You may take the programs in any order that reflects your learning needs at the time. Our certificates feature a core program or programs that introduce you to what we consider the core competencies of the field. The remaining programs offer a deeper exploration of each area. For this reason, we find that participants in the certificate stream benefit most by taking the foundational program first.

My level of expertise is above the foundational program for the certificate I am working on. Do I still need to take that program to earn a certificate?

Queen's IRC offers participants maximum flexibility to customize their individual training needs. Upon request, participants with advanced expertise may skip the foundational program, and choose another program from our entire program lineup, for credit towards a certificate. Participants must earn 12 credits to earn a certificate.

How long do I have to complete a certificate?

We attach no timeline for achieving your certificate. Once you have earned a credit, you have earned the credit. We do recommend, however, that participants complete their certificate within one to six years. Most people earn their certificates within three years.

What if I want to take one of your programs but do not want to pursue a certificate?

That's fine. All of our programs may be taken individually, and you can mix and match the courses in labour relations, human resources and organization development, depending on your learning needs. At the conclusion of each program, you are given a certificate of completion.

I have taken a custom program with the IRC.  Will this count towards a certificate?

Yes. Participants who take an IRC custom program may also use their training days as credits towards a certificate.

If I have other questions, who may I speak with personally?

For a program registration query, please feel free to call us at 1-888-858-7838 or 613-533-6628. To reach the Director and staff members, consult our online directory. To reach one of our facilitators, please contact Stephanie Noel at 613-533-6000 ext. 77088 or