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Turning Tension Into Collaboration: Tips For Resolving Conflict With Your Manager

Claire Renée Thomas

By Claire Renée Thomas, Mindset and Mindfulness Coach, Founder of Reaching My Best

Those who have encountered workplace conflicts can vividly recall the challenges and their profound impact. Managerial conflicts possess the capacity to disrupt both professional and personal spheres, creating a hostile environment that extends beyond the workplace. 

The anticipation of encountering a manager, whether in-person at the office or through virtual meetings, can evoke a sense of apprehension. The stress and anxiety from these conflicts don’t solely affect the individual but extend to their personal relationships, impacting partners, children, and friends alike. In a business context, addressing and mitigating such conflicts is crucial to maintaining a productive and harmonious work environment.

The tips to resolve conflict and to develop a collaborative working relationship fall into two categories; those that will help manage your day-to-day interactions and those that will help to resolve the conflict.

Tips to manage day-to-day interactions

Practising pausing before you respond – all too often when we don’t get on with our manager we jump to a sometimes defensive response too easily. If you use your breath to help you pause, then you can use that time to think about how you want to respond rather than responding with an automatic unconscious reply. 

Seek clarification before you commit to a task – when used in conjunction with a pause, ask a question to understand what is being asked of you before you say Yes. Ask your manager what their priority is for the tasks you have to complete and discuss what is feasible. This practice helps ensure that neither party over-commits or under-delivers and is more likely to keep everyone happy!

Keep a “paper trail” – although it might seem sceptical, confirm any verbal agreements in an email. It helps avoid future conflict on who said what. 

Plan a self-care routine – workplace conflict can impact your mental wellbeing. Look after yourself by creating some space between you and work at the end of each day e.g. reading a book on the journey home, walking the dog for 10 minutes. You’ll find that you have more relaxed home time.

Visualise the day ahead – start each day reviewing what is on the agenda. Take a moment to visualise what a good day would look like, consider what might get in the way and plan non-emotional responses to any challenges. 

Tips to resolve  conflict

Look inwards – when we are in conflict with someone, we automatically go to what they “should” be doing differently. We assume that we are the aggrieved party and that we have been and are doing everything “right”. However, it takes two to tango! Consider what your behaviours are. Spend some time thinking about how the conflict makes you feel and what that may trigger about what you believe about yourself. 

Observe and reflect on your manager’s behaviour – just as you have look inwards, consider what it would be like to be in your manager’s shoes? Why might they be behaving as they are? How might that make them feel? Cultivating empathy for the other person brings a more compassionate energy to conflict resolution.  

Consider the working environment at its impact – we are all influenced by the environments that we find ourselves in, so it’s also important to consider how your workplace environment may be contributing to the conflict. Are there upcoming redundancies or promotions? Is the company thriving or only just surviving? What does the greater economic climate look like? Uncertain or strong? How might this impact your and your manager’s behaviour and be contributing to the conflict? 

Use a strengths or personality assessment – there are many assessments that can be used to understand the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Myers Briggs, Facet5 and CliftonStrengths are popular. Positive Intelligence’s Saboteur Quiz is powerful because it helps identify self-sabotaging behaviours that we all have, cultivating compassion and kindness which in turn help improve team productivity as well as build mental fitness and wellbeing. 

Schedule a meeting with your manager – ask to speak to them about ideas you have for improving your ways of working with each other to help the team’s productivity. This proactive, collaborative approach will set the foundation for a positive conversation where new ideas can be generated. 

Own how you feel – share how you feel when certain behaviours are displayed. For example – “When you talk over me, I feel unheard.” This is a powerful statement for two reasons; the first is that it clearly and succinctly articulates a specific behaviour and secondly the feeling is yours to have. You can’t be denied it by anyone. When your manager knows how you feel it’s human instinct to want to do something different. It therefore opens a door to a dialogue about how things could be different. 

Many of us run a mile to avoid facing conflict or we please others to keep things on an even keel, yet when we know how to face conflict head on it can be a rewarding, liberating experience and an opportunity for self-development. In fact, it is perfectly possible to turn the tension into a more productive workplace collaboration.

About Claire Renée Thomas, Mindset and Mindfulness Coach, Founder of Reaching My Best

Claire Renée Thomas, founder of Reaching My Best, is a mindset and mindfulness coach, and one of the few certified mental fitness coaches in the UK. Her passion and focus is on guiding and empowering women to unlock their full potential and overcome any obstacles they may be facing personally or professionally. Her mission is not just to guide individuals to greater fulfilment, but to empower them to lead rewarding, purpose-driven lives.

As a coach, Claire recognises the pivotal role that our mindset and mental well-being play in achieving meaningful and sustainable success. Through her expertise in mindfulness practices, she equips her clients with tools to navigate challenges with resilience, clarity and focus.

With a professional background spanning over 25 years in the telecoms sector, management consulting, digital startups and interior design, Claire can offer a unique perspective and adapt to any situation.  With Reaching My Best, Claire’s goal is to inspire as many women around the world as possible to unlock their true potential.

Based in Kent, Claire lives with her husband and two daughters, who were her inspiration for starting Reaching My Best.




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