How to successfully deflect conflict

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How to successfully deflect conflict 

When coaching a team, it can be really helpful to learn how to successfully challenge the group, without imposing specific ideas or agenda, and without pushing or pulling them in any particular direction.

Being a catalyst for change will bring collective awareness, however somebody within the group may feel threatened or exposed. They may believe they are defending themselves against an attack in which they think they are the victim. They may also target you in a way they could not do to their Manager.


So how will you deflect conflict if you find yourself faced with a verbal attack?

  1. Stay positive – Remember to react positively, especially as this will normally happen in public and can make the situation all the more delicate and complex. Especially as everyone will be watching your reaction and how you are going to cope.
  2. Don’t be sensitive – Deflect the attack by facing up to it, then soften the impact it could have by fully embracing it. Remember, the overall impact of the attack will largely depend on your sensitivity and how quickly you act to minimize the effect it has.
  3. It’s not personal – The person attacking does not normally have any personal hostile intention against you, so it should not be taken personally and any response should not involve reacting with your ego.
  4. Use an inoffensive approach – The most concrete, appropriate and effective solution to deflect conflict, is to immediately verbalize using an inoffensive approach.


Here are some suggested approaches:

  • “I understand that what I have just said may have shocked you and please forgive me for this. In your own words, how would you have said it?”
  • “I am sorry what I am suggesting does not work for you, but by going beyond our normal comfort zone, we will be able to achieve different solutions which allow for different or high-performance results. Let us discuss the idea and see if we could make it work.”
  • “I hear that you are questioning my skills and I understand that they are unknown, different or unusual to you in relation to the people you usually work with. But these skills are the reason why your Manager and your company selected me to be your team coach. Please help me understand what is causing you concern so I can adapt my approach.”
  • “I understand that what we are doing is unusual and is generating some negative energy within you and you are not obliged to fully take part in the exercise or stay if it really is causing you distress or you find it too difficult. Please feel free to stay and observe for now, but can we talk about this during the next break, so I can understand how you are feeling.”

These suggested approaches will help deflect conflict, however the real skill will be to challenge and drive change collectively. By respecting their freedom to learn and grow as a group, you can guide them towards more ambitious results, so they can progress towards greater performance and positive outcomes.

Are you new to team coaching?

If you would like to move into this area of coaching and work with managers or their teams, you will need to first do some work on the practical side of things and generate new leads. Then convert them into a sale by talking about how your skills and experience can help achieve the outcomes needed to come together and succeed as a group.

The key to being successful in this area is to quickly build confidence and maybe stand out by highlighting a fresh approach you could bring to team coaching. This can be built on your specific background or life experiences and the different types of developmental tools you plan to use like the example above about running great team meetings.

One tool you can use when team coaching is to investigate their different personality types. This approach can be used to develop a better understanding of individual and group motivations and once you know the range of personalities within a team, you can use this insight to find how they can best work together to achieve success.

They can then be reviewed as part of a 121 coaching session with individuals, or openly discussed as part of a constructive and supportive group coaching session where you can role-play different situations in a safe and supportive space.

Our ebook on coaching a team will help you unlock the true potential within a group and includes the tools you need to run team coaching sessions and successfully deflect any conflict you may encounter. And if you would like to add some creativity to your team coaching session, we also have a virtual card game specifically designed for you to use when coaching a team.

If you would like to learn how to successfully challenge a team, check out our ebook and virtual game in the online shop:

  • Ebook – Coaching a team – Run successful team coaching sessions and learn how to deflect conflict with this essential guide to coaching a team.
  • Virtual GameCoaching a team – Use this practical online tool when coaching a team to help them achieve their strategic goals in a creative way.

We constantly add content to the site, so please check our on-line shop and look at the full range of games, ebooks and kits. Or read some of the other blog posts written by our team of international coaches.




Please note – Our materials can only be copied and distributed, if you include a reference and link to the original source: (cc) – 2023

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