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Why is Some Conflict Healthy While Other Disagreements Escalate Out of Control?

Discord at the Office
Why is Some Conflict Healthy While Other Disagreements Escalate Out of Control?

A recent paper in the Academy of Management Review says it’s not just the nature of a disagreement, but the way it is expressd that leads to a positive or negative result in the workplace. The authors identified four types of conflict expression. Can you guess which conflict style which is healthiest?

A. High directness/high intensity

B. High directness/low intensity

C. Low directness/high intensity

D. Low directness/low intensity

The answer is B. When we use this style, our communication is unambiguous. However, it also invites deliberation instead of eye rolling or shouting (A), ambiguousness or mean-spirited teasing, (C) or  avoidance and passive-agressiveness (D).

How Civil is Your Work Environment?

Take this quiz and see.


Conference Calls: Call in, Tune out

 Conference Calls:

The New York Times reports that conference calls have become an “orgy of multitasking”. Here’s one example the paper cites:

“Dr. Halamka…uses his time on conference calls to sand and varnish the furniture, walk his dogs, get a haircut or tend to his llamas.”

The solution? Use videoconferencing for a higher level of accountability. (But then there’s the risk seeing your colleagues in their pajamas, brushing their teeth or playing with their cats!)


 Thiagi’s “1-2-3 Clap”

Thiagi is an exciting educator and a “training guru” to many across the globe, including me. In this short video, he introduces a  simple activity with a profound message. Try it out!

Do you need a fun icebreaker for meetings?


I recently discovered the “thumball”. It gets people moving and talking, and is a great warm-up tool. Check it out on Amazon.

Cool Hooks to Start Your Session

 Cool Hooks to Start Your Session
Try these to engage your participants from the “get-go”. Watch a video to learn more about Hooks!

The “I Don’t Feel Like Me” Blues

The “I Don’t Feel Like Me” Blues

that's not me yowlHave you taken a presentation skills course with me (Guila) and found yourself feeling strange, even “fake” as you practice unfamiliar behaviors?

You may remember hearing my prompts during the session. They include:

  • Use the Magic Circle!
  • Own the Real Estate!
  • Drop the Figleaf!
  • Sternum Up, Shoulders Down! and even
  • Show Your Body!

Sometimes, my workshop participants push back. They may tell me “That’s not what I do,” or “This doesn’t feel like me!” While I empathize with their discomfort, I’m also glad they’re feeling it. Behaving in a new way SHOULD feel different, even a little scary.

The Intensified You

Why are you taking a presentation skills course? Presumably, it’s to improve your presentation behaviors. These behaviors can be defined as unique skills that improve your delivery of content. They are not skills to make you better at coding, supervising, engineering, making art, or any of the skills you already excel at doing.

When you feel out of your comfort zone as you practice new presentation behaviors, give yourself a pat on the back. You are expanding your boundaries. You are stepping into your “intensified you” persona.

“Intensified” Or Fake?

Your “intensified you” persona includes:

  • Speaking more deliberately, and probably more loudly.
  • Taking up more physical space through the use of gestures and posture.
  • Demanding attention, and thriving in it for the duration of the presentation.

The “intensified you” persona is 100%, authentically, you. It is simply a stronger, more confident and powerful version of your everyday you.

The New Science

2,000 years ago, Aristotle proclaimed that acting virtuous would make one virtuous. More recently, Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy found that we become how we act. The way we use our bodies shapes who we are. We know now that change occurs from the outside in, not only from the inside out.

By acting “as if” you belong in front of an audience, you start belonging in front of an audience. By looking powerful (even if you are quivering inside), you become more powerful.

Embrace It

The move from the “workaday you” to the “intensified you” might feel uncomfortable. Complain if you desire. But if you are serious about being the best presenter you can be, say “hello” to new sensations, postures, and movements. Start to enjoy a new side of yourself—the intensified you.

“Our bodies change our minds. Our minds can change our behavior. Our behavior can change our outcomes.” Amy Cuddy

 Learn about Guila Muir’s Presentation Skills Workshops.

Guila Muir is a premiere trainer of trainers, facilitators, and presenters. Since 1994, she has helped thousands of professionals improve their training, facilitation, and presentation skills. Find out how she can help transform you from a boring expert to a great presenter:



The New York Times quotes Kevin Lofton, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives, about an innovative role for one meeting member:

“In our senior management meetings, we appoint a designated devil’s advocate. So if we’re discussing a critical issue, we’ll appoint someone–and the role rotates–to be the devil’s advocate, no matter what their personal point of view is. That helps us avoid groupthink.”
The next time your group makes a high-stakes decision, try this out. Then write to me and let me know how it goes!

This Webinar Will Improve Your Meetings

This Webinar Will
Improve Your Meetings
Having a meeting
This one-hour Facilitation Skills Webinar is perfect for anyone who has:

  • participated in my “Making Meetings Work” course, and wants to refresh their skills;
  • never taken the course, but wants new insights and tools to run better meetings;
  • considered buying “Making Meetings Work” for their organization, and wants a preview of the course.

The University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) generously recorded the Webinar for their scholars in October, 2015. Use it as an introduction to effective facilitation and as a brush-up class. Thank you, NWCPHP, for letting us share it here!


Instructional Design That Soars Book
This book helps thousands of people across the globe create energetic, fun training for adults.

Order it now and get two free resources to help you build your training team.


“It’s Showtime!”

Recently, I asked a few excellent public speakers if they employ “self-talk” to boost their energy and confidence right before they take the stage. If so, what do they say?

Approximately 75% of those I surveyed told me they regularly deliver an internal message to self in those few seconds. I do, too. This is it:


  • Relax
  • Breathe
  • Be Yourself.”

Other speakers’ self-talk includes the following:

  • I’m great!
  • Get it ON! (Common variation: Let’s do this thing.)
  • I love doing this, and they love ME.

Hearing your own encouraging, internal voice could help you spring into action with added enthusiasm. Give it a try!

(And the next time you see me muttering to myself seconds before I begin, you will know what I am doing.)
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