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Sarah McIlwaine

Synety Plc

Training Manager

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Dealing with conflict/Self empowerment


Hello all,

I'm relatively to new to this blogging stuff so any help would be really appreciated. I've been asked to write a session for office staff who need to deal with conflict from both internal staff and external customers. 

The brief is:


  • Sellers/Agents/Install Teams
  • Do not understand the rules
  • Do not feel they have to comply with rules
  • Do not like the message we have to deliver
  • Do not think it is their job to correct
The team want to:
  • Be able to manage the situation
  • Control the conversation
  • End a call in the correct way
The team do not want to :
  • Get stressed/flustered
  • Pass the call on for someone else to resolve
  • Retaliate/respond inappropriately
I'm comfortable dealing with the communication but would love any tips on dealing with conflict over the phone. 
Thanks in advance

3 Responses

  1. Conflict / Phone

    I have used the LEAPS model (Listen, Empathise, Ask, Paraphrase, Summarise) for many different Conflict scenarios which works quite well. It’s used in many types of Police training both face-to-face and telephone situations.

    You may also want to check out Dr George Thompson and ‘Verbal Judo’ which is a great theory of deflecting and redirecting the verbal responses you can get in confrontation.  An example of his ideas is the use of ‘Tactical Peace phrases’

    I do think having a ‘enough is enough’ policy is important.  The Police use a 5 step appeal a lot which I adapted to use on the telephone to 3 stages.  It’s a mixture of assertiveness and reasoning.


    1) Simple
    …..Could I ask you not to
    …please would you stop
    2) Reasoned
    I am trying to resolve this for you, but I cannot progress things if you continue to…..
    I can hear you are very upset, but I can’t help you if you continue to…
    3) Final
    As I’ve already mentioned, I am here to help you, but if you continue to…I shall have to end this conversation and put down the phone
    I can hear that you are angry, but I am not prepared to be spoken to this way and I feel your behaviour is personally abusive so I will be ending the phone call unless you stop.
    I am now ending this call…..
  2. Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

    Hi Sarah, Non-Violent Communication (NVC), sometimes described as "compassionate communication," has been developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, and used around the world in a large variety of fields.  While I’m not trained / qualified in NVC, I have used it in to great effect in my work (OD practitioner, mediation in communities and workplace) and in my personal life (mostly communicating better with my three young children!).  For a brief summary of what it’s about go to the following page on the Center for Non-Violent Communication’s website:  There’s other info on the site to explain what it’s about, or read one of his books: "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life" by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.

    I have been able to get across to people relatively quickly and easily in various OD interventions (eg team building, coaching, leadership development) the four steps that NVC advocates, namely: 

    1.  Observation:  Identifying what is causing the conflict from your perspective, and feeding back the observation in a non-judgemental / evaluative way.  This helps to keep things factual, and keeps the heat out of a conversation / situation.

    2.  Feelings:   Articulate your own feelings – how does what you have observed / experienced make you feel?

    3.  Needs:  I found this to be the most "different" concept for me to grasp in this model.  What you feel is a result of some fairly basic need of yours that is / is not being met in that situation.  I’ve found that if I can work out what my needs are in that situation, and also what the other person’s needs are, then I’ve been able to keep the rational / thinking part of the brain functioning, and avoid the fight, flight or freeze response when under pressure.

    4.  Request:  The final part is to make a request of someone – specify an action / some actions that you want them to do to help you to work through the conflict (to meet your needs).  Making a request rather than a demand will hopefully avoid their resisting what you are suggesting.

    If you want to discuss further, get in touch with me through this site.

    Regards.  Paul

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Sarah McIlwaine

Training Manager

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