When called into a personal conflict in the workplace, the parties usually want to tell me "what she said" and "what he said" over and over again. Instead, I ask them to reflect on the following, and then when we meet face to face, stick to the points they illuminated in their reflections:

Please consider these questions and make notes on a separate sheet prior to arriving at our meeting at noon on

[date]. I understand that the goal of meeting is to act on your willingness to elicit agreements for a more harmonious working relationship. I salute you both!

1) Describe a time when you worked in a situation that was completely harmonious between colleagues. What were the conditions and circumstances that created a feeling of harmony and collegiality? Make a lengthy list.

2) From the list above, select three qualities that are important to you in any working relationship and define them thoroughly.

3) Describe ANYTHING that is working about your current work relationship. Try to make a list here too.

4) Describe what you would like MORE OF as you continue to work with this person.

I have spent no more than 90 minutes total both reviewing their personal notes, then moving into agreements that have developed healthier relationships.

from Jennifer Mann in Santa Rosa, posted on the AI list serve