530: How to Prepare for Conflict, with Amy Gallo


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Amy Gallo: HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict

Amy Gallo is an expert in conflict, communication, and workplace dynamics. She combines the latest management research with practical advice to deliver evidence-based ideas on how to improve relationships and excel at work. She is the author of the Harvard Business Review Guide to Dealing with Conflict*, a how-to guidebook about handling conflict professionally and productively.

In her role as a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, Amy writes frequently about a range of topics with a focus on interpersonal dynamics, communicating ideas, leading and influencing people, and building your career. She is also co-host of Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work podcast, which is in its sixth season.

In this conversation, Amy and I discuss some of the key strategies that have emerged from her research on the most effective ways to prepare for conflict. We explore why a larger strategy is more important than a script, how to plan out your message, and the value of taking the other side’s perspective.

Key Points

  • Be honest with yourself that a conversation may be difficult, but also seek a constructive way to frame it.
  • Take your counterpart’s perspective, but don’t assume you know everything they are thinking.
  • Plan your message by appealing to a shared goal.
  • Focus your efforts on framing the larger strategy and outcome rather than a specific script or phrases.
  • Avoid scripting out a conversation, but have clarity on how you will start and the 2-3 points you need to convey.
  • When conflict emerges in the organization, leaders are wise to lean into it rather than shutting it down in the moment.

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