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

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, you will learn how to anticipate and better understand the dynamics of workplace conflicts. This highly interactive program features practical tools and 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. You will leave with a number of tools and techniques to assist you to deal with challenging situations.

Tour of the Program

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

a) Understanding conflict

Learn about how conflict can lead to positive learning and growth, how our brains respond in conflict, how to distinguish between different sources of conflict, how to leverage positive features of conflict and what motivates people in conflict through discussion, interactive presentations and simulation exercises. We’ll discuss interpersonal conflict and the impact of power, gender, culture and generational dynamics. Additionally, we will address a wide range of intervention tools and how to select an appropriate option. You’ll also learn about the conflict triggers that result in escalation, tools to identify root causes of conflicts and ways to improve interpersonal communication both in person and using digital communication. 

b) Difficult conversations, difficult behaviours

Conflict avoidance is sometimes a viable and strategic option. However, it can also lead to never-ending festering problems or even escalated conflicts. We need to know how to raise difficult issues and to respond effectively when others challenge or confront us. We’ll examine why certain types of conflict are challenging and discuss different approaches for engaging difficult conversations, especially with people exhibiting difficult behaviours.

c) Coaching

Conflict coaching is about learning and growth. It helps a person to build capacity to prepare for and deal more effectively with a wide range of conflicts. We’ll teach you when to use coaching, how to use powerful questions to prepare people to engage in conflict more effectively, and how to prompt others to take constructive approaches to resolving conflicts. Part of being a great manager and leader is empowering and teaching others to engage in a conflict on their own, rather than handling it for them, and we will prepare you to do just that.

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 the source of the problem which could be a particularly difficult individual, a lack of direction and leadership, interpersonal conflict, or an organizational issue. You’ll learn and practice effective facilitation skills among people with varied issues, needs, and wants. You’ll also learn how group dynamics in team meetings can both work to escalate and de-escalate organizational conflict in order for the team to work better together and improve decision-making.

e) Structural conflict

Your organization’s structure may be unintentionally contributing to conflict dynamics. We’ll review several potential structure sources of conflict – for example, how decisions are made, or how co-ordination takes place between two units or teams, and discuss how to focus on what can and cannot be changed.

f) Self-Care

Dealing with conflict in the workplace is stressful. We will discuss and practice reflective strategies and techniques to improve how you respond and react to conflictual situations.

Learning Outcomes

Learn how to:

  • Analyze conflicts to determine root causes, opportunities, and appropriate options/responses
  • Respond to different types of organizational, interpersonal, intra-team, and inter-team conflicts
  • Increase the types of strategies and responses available for conflict situations
  • Factor in the many organizational dynamics that impact conflict (e.g. power, gender, culture etc.)
  • Manage conversations with people demonstrating high emotion or difficult behaviours
  • 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
  • Improve your own reflective and self-care practices


Organizational Benefits

  • An enhanced capacity to deal with everyday work conflicts using proven strategies
  • Increase in skills to understand, prevent and de-escalate in-person and digital media conflicts
  • Coaching tips for guiding team members to take a constructive approach to conflict
  • Approaches for analyzing conflictual situations and 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 worksheets
  • Tools for analyzing potential and actual conflict
  • Tools for dealing with high emotion and difficult behaviours

Who Should Attend

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

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

Joan Sabott

Joan Sabott is a practitioner, consultant, trainer, teacher, and coach in conflict engagement and resolution.  Currently, she is an adjunct faculty at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, USA, on leadership and conflict.  Joan is an Affiliated Practitioner and former Senior Program Manager with The Langdon Group. She has consulted on various projects in the organizational sector for businesses and public agencies, and on environmental projects in the substantive areas of water, transportation, and land use and planning.  Project experience ranges from high-level water negotiations in California, to the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, to the dissolution of firms, to the team management and development...

Read the full bio for Joan Sabott

Guest Speaker(s)

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

Mar 1-5, 2021(11am-3pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Sep 13-17, 2021(11am-3pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

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 University) 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?

We offer an Early-Bird discount for in-person programs. If you register 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. Virtual programs are offered at approximately 15% less than our in-person rates and are not eligible for an Early-Bird rate.

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. These discounts apply to both in-person and virtual training.

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 10% discount on program fees. 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 4:30 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