Category Archives for "conflict"

Aug 28

Handling Difficult People – Think I Know It All – Personality Type

By Lee Stemm | conflict

5 Steps to Handle the - Think I Know It all  'Personality Type

 Would you like to get the Hook out to Remove the Think I know it all from their audience?

Tried of listening to their generalizations, distortions, and deletion; when trying to gain appreciation?

Meeting the - Think I Know it All


I love watching old movies, perhaps I am a romantic at heart. When I am confronted with the Think, I Know it all Personality type, who simply generalizes, distorts and deletes information; I think of the movie picture days, when someone wasn’t performing well, the hook would come out and drag them off stage.

The Think I know it all personality type, knows enough to fool people who are not familiar with the subject, however they can’t fool those who know that they are simply wanting to gain appreciation.

Having compassion and patience are two important traits, required when handling the think, I know it all personality type. I see them as the cartoon on stage, trying so hard to gain appreciation and significance from others; once again doing their performance.

When they are not getting the attention; that they desire, then they will keep on trying until they receive it. Often pushing themselves into your conversation, without being invited, putting across their point of view assertively with complete confidence.

They have a strong people focus, after all this is where they gain attention. At first their misinformation can be fun to listen to; however, you do start to stop listening, as they continually strive to be in the limelight. It becomes too much and overbearing.

Eventually the Think I know all loses credibility, respect and people start to avoid them. Their attention seeking behavior pushes you away.  Often you will hear words like “Don’t encourage her/him, we could be here forever”. This subtle message is often overlooked by the Think I know it all. Sometimes we must be more direct.


Signs of the  - I think I know It All 


Often, they use generalizations, distortions and deletions of information. They are attention seeking and outspoken. Know enough information to be perceived as knowing their subject. Counterattack with grander claims and persuasions. They will defend their ideas – however they are not as fixed minded as the Know it all personality style. They stretch the truth


Goal -   Your goal with the - Think I Know it All - To give their bad ideas the hook

Your Action Plan

Step 1


Give them a little bit of attention

 When they stretch the truth, ensure that you don’t try to go completely in the opposite direction – If you do then you may lose credibility

Use a go beyond attitude – just image years into the future – What difference will it really make? – Does it really matter?

Focus on what you want to achieve and not be distracted

Backtrack with enthusiasm, this shows that you are paying attention to them  

Look on the positive – Find the Positive in the situation - Acknowledge positive intent  

For example, if you are in the meeting and the Know it all -starts to speak about foolish suggestions or regressive information – then simply say “thank you for wanting to contribute to the meeting?

You do not have to agree with the information that they are putting forward.  You are simply finding something to acknowledge to give them attention  

This may be enough to end the disruptions from the think I know it all – This may then satisfy the think I know it all, and allow others to take an active part in the conversation

Step 2



 Step 2 – Clarify their Details


 If you are certain that they have no idea, and you know your subject, then this should be an easy step to take. Ask them some questions that will clarify the specifics  

Remember that  the I think I know it all;  use generalizations, deletions and distortions

Use questions -  Some questions could be ‘what specifically are you referring to here ………? “or Who was specifically involved with this, Or has there been a time when this generalization may not be true?

 Caution – Be careful of your nonverbal communication signs – think you know it all’s – don’t like being backed into a corner

 When cornered they may become defensive

Try to ask the question by being curious – remember humiliation is not a good strategy

Step 3


Step 3 – Tell it like it is

 Bring the conversation back to reality.

Using I statement to take ownership of your message.

Phrases like “In my perspective it is……..”or  “The way that I viewed  this is ………..”Or Ï read this in an article just recently…….”

Provide documentation to support your statements – It is difficult for the think they know it all to dispute the facts when they are in a written format

Great time to quote journals, facts, articles and industry references

Do not use Humiliation as a strategy

  • Ensure you have facts that you can reference
  •  Will aggressive defend if they feel like they are being attacked
  • They know enough to look like they are knowledgeable around the subject


 Step 4 – Ease up on them

Remember not to humiliate them – you may say something like “this is the article that I am referring to, John, I know you have been busy, perhaps you haven’t had time to read this one yet?”

Or you can say ‘Thanks for highlighting that point, it has really jogged my memory”, then simply proceed back on track.

This will confuse the know it all, which will give you time to refocus onto the discussion that you were having.

The think I know it all, will not deny or reject your appreciation from you, while they stop to appreciate your appreciation of them, then simply continue with your discussion.

IF you know what you are talking about, then they are less likely to want to distract you.

The think they know it all is not as fixed in their thinking as the know it all. Therefore they are easier to shift their thinking.

If you give them a way to get along with you, then they will become an ally of yours, and jump onto your band wagon



 Step 5 – Interrupt the Cycle

Use gentle confrontation to let them know the consequences of their negative behavior. Have a one on one conversation from the heart.

Or – Give them active recognition on the things that they are doing well – reinforce the positive – something this is enough as they start to gain attention for the things that they are doing well.


“You Decide to Step Over the Line

Commitment Leads to Action

Action Leads to Getting Different Results”

Lee Stemm

Remember your Goal 

 The Think I Know It All  -  Give their bad ideas the hook

On Demand - Conflict Management 101  - 6 Week Boot Camp  

Check out our Boot Camp - Delivery Options are available

Grab your Bonuses by enrolling into our next course

Aug 22

Handling Difficult People The Grenade Personality Type

By Lee Stemm | conflict

5 Steps to Handle the Grenade  'Personality Type

When Grenade's Pin is Pulled – Do you Hide and Duck for Cover?

Or do you come home at night, wanting to relax , And yes you are greeted by the Grenade's explosion?

Meeting the Grenade

You come home from a hard days work, seeking just to relax,  and take a few minutes to change gears, then you are confronted with the Grenade. Mary explodes:

"Really you come home and you simply switch on the TV?", Ï have been working all day as well, and you really need to pick up some of the slack at home, "And it looks like I am the only one who sees the trash bin overflowing", "Little Jimmy has been sick, I am trying to handle him, make dinner, and all you do is switch on the TV", "I feel that you simply don't care about me, after all I am not your slave!

Does this sound familiar ? 

The Grenade is simply after appreciation. When they do not gain attention, then they will demand attention, and when they don't get it, they blow up  whilst completely losing emotional control.

It is the adult temper tantrum. Some people hold onto resentment for years, then explode, whilst overs pull the pin daily. 

All you have to do is to say something at the wrong time, or it can be things that you haven't said, perhaps your tonality or the way you make a facial expression. At this point anything you say or do will make the situation worse. 

It can be humiliating for the grenade, when they realize what they have done. Often Grenades will leave the crime scene as soon as they have finished exploding. This is a self-hatred cycle that they continually find themselves in, with no control.

When Dealing with a Grenade

  • Break the Cycle - Stop Blaming them for what they are blaming themselves for
  • Forgive them for their moments of insanity
  • Take Deep Breaths to release the intense impact from the Grenade
  • Writing out an angry letter to self - Then burn it ( make sure you don't show it to the Grenade)
  • View the Grenade as a small wind up toy - jumping around trying to gain attention ( like a cartoon)

Signs of the Grenade 

 Blow up quickly with temper Tantrums.  Lose emotional control. Leave the scene quickly after the explosion. Often feel humiliated that they behaved that way. Speak Loudly and demand attention immediately. Anything can set them off, they are looking for appreciation and recognition. 


Goal -   Your goal with the Grenade - Take Control of the Situation


Your Action Plan

Step 1


Get Their Attention

 When the Grenade is losing control, you may need to raise your voice to grab their attention. You simply call out their name, whilst waving your hands slowing back and forth in front of them.

Ensure your tonality is friendly, otherwise they will see you as being aggressive

Step 2



Speak to their Heart


Be Warned – Show a genuine concern towards them. Listen closely to understand what set the explosion off. Use backtracking when reassuring them of your concerns.

When you respond to them, back them up - for example "I do really care about you , and it is good to get this out of your system ; into the open" or "We really do appreciate your hard work in the office, it is good that you are speaking up."

Remember your communication needs to be heart felt and genuine 

Step 3


Reduce the Intensity

 If you have succeeded in the last step and your words touched their heart, then they will register this, whilst shaking off the anger, with rapid blinking of the eyes. Now they are starting to see the tantrum that they have just performed in front of others. 

This is where they may start to feel humiliated. When you notice this change , start to lower your voice, slow down your speed of communication to bring them back down to a more relaxed state. 

Now you have taken control of the situation.

Do not Blow up with the Grenade

This will result in:

  • Resentment
  • Lose of Trust
  • If you write a letter  to vent ( ensue the Grenade doesn't see it - Burn it)
  • Don't add fuel to the raging fire


Give them time out to Calm Down Completely

 Whether this is an hour, or a few days - Simply give them time to cool off and to step away from their emotional reaction.

For example "Mary, lets take a break from this now, I would like us to get together next week to see our we can work this out"



Find out what is really going on

 Ask Questions to find out what is really going on for example

Mary, how do you know  when people  in the office not value your hard work? or "Just before you start to lose control, what are you feeling, seeing or telling yourself?"

Keep on using search light questions to gain more specifics. This is supporting the Grenade to gain their won insights 

You are activity spending time for the Grenade to start to think before exploding next time. This will reduce the frequency, and intensity of negative behavior. 

If this is occurring in a work situation, you may consider team alignment, conflict management or personal coaching for Mary around interpersonal skills.


“You Decide to Step Over the Line

Commitment Leads to Action

Action Leads to Getting Different Results”

Lee Stemm

Remember your Goal 

 The Grenade - Take Control of the Situation  

On Demand - Conflict Management 101  - 6 Week Boot Camp  

Check out our Boot Camp - Delivery Options are available

Grab your Bonuses by enrolling into our next course

Aug 12

Handling Difficult People – The Know It all – Personality

By Lee Stemm | conflict

5 Steps to Handle the Know It All  'Personality Type

When confronted by the Know It All – Do you try to outsmart them?

Or do you become a Know It All Yourself.? Tying to Outsmart them?

Wanting to prove that you are right and they are wrong?

Meeting the Know It All

I was chatting to one of my students who attended one of  my  Leadership courses. You see she was being micromanaged and it was driving her crazy. She confided in me that when it came to performance reviews that she had always gained great feedback and was very competent in her work. This seemed a bit of a puzzle to her. However, it was something that she simply didn’t want to put up with anymore.

I mentioned to her, perhaps her manager was a Know IT All – who needs to always be in control. Which lead me to this story; and  how we can approach situations differently.

There was this martial artist who wanted to master his art. Not just practice it – to make the invisible become visible – His trainer was always correcting him and watching him closely ensuring that any mistakes that were made, didn’t go without correction. The Martial Artist would take on-board the correction eagerly as he wanted to master the art. His teacher was harder on him and expected more from him, then the rest of the students.

This Martial Artist worked as a carpenter and his site manager was a Know It all – Always micromanaging him, giving him pointers, never allowing him to think for himself. This really started to frustrate the martial artist, and he started to get a stomach ulcer from the stress.

Then one day, he got it. He was doing some reflective thinking doing his training, as to why can his martial arts teacher correct him, and that was okay, yet really the same thing was happening with his site Foreman at work and this frustrated him.

Perhaps it was because he respected his martial arts teacher, and his ego was getting in the way with the site foreman. So he decided to duplicate the way he handled his teacher, and when the foreman came to correct him, he simply turned around and said show me.

He decided to turn these instances into learning opportunities. He would simply turn around and say to the Foreman, saying - I want to Learn, show me – Now this completely surprised the Foreman as he never expected this response.

In time the Foreman lightened up on him, and even though they never became best friends, the relationship become friendlier. The Martial Artist learned some new techniques in how to approach the Foreman, and once he changed his attitude to  be a learning opportunity things started to change. His ulcer disappeared, and he no longer experiences the stress levels.

What are the signs of a Know It All ?

Rigid Mindset, Don’t Yield, Like to be right, hate correction, Perfectionist, Controlling, Knowledgeable, Outspoken, Like things done in their way, Challenged by new ideas and concepts, Being wrong is humiliation, Dominate and can use manipulation -  they like to noticed for their brilliance

When Dealing with a Know It All

  • remain patient
  • flexible and very clever in the way that you present your ideas.
  •  Remember that your leadership and personal growth comes from adversity.

Signs of the Know It all 

 Rigid Mindset, Don’t Yield, Like to be right, hate correction, Perfectionist, Controlling, Knowledgeable, Outspoken, Like things done in their way, Challenged by new ideas and concepts, Being wrong is humiliation, Dominate and can use manipulation -  they like to noticed for their brilliance


Goal -   Your goal with a Know it all – Is to open their mind to new ideas

Let your mounting frustration turn in determination – Just remember patience

Your Action Plan

Step 1


Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Know the Facts

Make sure you research the topic or incident prior to speaking to a Know It all – The Know it all will look for errors and mistakes in the information that you deliver.

 If they pick up on any shortcomings, they will use these to discredit your whole idea.

Communicate the message briefly, clearly and concisely

Step 2



Backtrack - Respectively


Be Warned – Out of all the difficult personality types, you will have to do more back tracking with the Know It all . 

By Backtracking you are demonstrating that you have heard and understand their point of view. ​

 If you miss a point during the backtrack, then they will reinforce their brilliance, by repeating it all over again.  

This can become very frustrating and time consuming

Remember Respectively – there can not be any hint of correction or disagreement.

 Watch your tonality ensuring that your words are not condescending.

 If the  Know It All starts to show signs of impatience, then simply speed up the process and get to the point

Step 3


Blend with their Doubts and Desires

Acknowledge the reasons and criteria around their doubts and desires .

Show that you agree with them -  If the know it all states that this will not work; as it has been tried before – Blend with this statement – saying :

 I know in the past that this has been tried and it didn’t work , ( dovetail it with the doubts and desires) -


You state the dismissal before the Know It All can   

Do not Become a Know It All Yourself

This will result in:

  • rigid mindset
  • Needing to proof yourself right
  • Never Yielding
  • Becoming Unapproachable 
  • Missing out on New Opportunties


Present your Views Indirectly

Now the shield is down from the Know It All – It is time to carefully present you ideas by doing the following

 Use softening words like

maybe, perhaps, this may be a detour, bear with me for a moment, I was just wandering, Let’s explore this concept, - Ensure that your words are not direct or challenging to the Know It All

Use words like Us, We, Sentences like “What would happen if we ………. “, or “What might the result be if we do ………….” This includes the Know It All in with the ideas that you are putting forward – Stay away from I and my and your words

Use questions instead of statements 

People who act like Know It All’s – feel that they must know the answers to your questions. Therefore, they will consider your question before answering it For Example –

Bear with me, I was wandering, what do you suppose would happen if we were to try ( your information and idea) out  in these specific ways?


Now you would include the doubts and desires of the Know It all

Ensure you think before you speak.  – backtrack respectfully – dove tail doubts and desires

When you approach a Know It All in a non-threatening way – then you are seen up on their radar as a friendly person

As your ideas break through the shield of the Know It all’s, and they are correct, you will start to gain respect from the know it all


Establish a Mentoring Relationship

 Acknowledge them and build that relationship to guide you in an area that you are wanting to develop.  Use their skills as a mentor for other team members – Remember they like to be recognized for their brilliance.


“You Decide to Step Over the Line

Commitment Leads to Action

Action Leads to Getting Different Results”

Lee Stemm

Remember your Goal 

 Get the Know It All - Open their mind to new ideas and opportunities  

On Demand - Conflict Management 101  - 6 Week Boot Camp  

Check out our Boot Camp - Delivery Options are available

Grab your Bonuses by enrolling into our next course

Aug 07

Handling Difficult People – The Sniper Personaility

By Lee Stemm | conflict

5 Steps to Handle the Sniper 'Personality Type

Have you ever been caught off guard by a remark, or been made to look foolish in front of others?

Perhaps when you are making an important presentation?

Then you have just experienced sniping?

This article  is part of my series around handling difficult personality types. Today I am focusing on the person who throws out one liners to caught you off guard, trying to discredit you in front of others – known as the sniper

When the sniper is threatened, they hide behind rude remarks, sarcastic humor, with a biting tonality to their words. They often demonstrate nonverbal signs of communication by rolling their eyes when you are putting forward a point of view.

What motivates the sniper’s behavior?

Now there are several motivators, which include holding grudges, angry around a missed opportunity, threatened that you may excel in your role and that you may gain more attention then themselves.  Some snipers who are termed friendly snipers -just want to gain attention and this is a behavioral tract of theirs.

Meeting the Sniper

I remember my first workshop that I facilitated for a company as a contractor. It was my first day working with start-up business owners.  I was very familiar with the content; however, I was still learning the policies and procedures of the company.  Seated at the back of the room was my immediate manager, so I am a bit nervous; however, I was able to control my nerves and once I started the training, I was feeling confident.

I was questioned by some of the students if they could come directly to me if they had any issues . Of course i said confidently, after all what else was I supposed to say.?

All of a sudden I hear “No that is not correct” , “They all have to go through me or the state manager “to find out that information. You need to ensure your information is correct.

Yes that is how my immediate manager handled the situation. She turned out to be a sniper, threatened by me, and unable to adapt to change within the company.  I was in the wrong place , at the wrong time. 

 Her remark had come from the back of the room; completely throwing me  off guard. I felt foolish and incompetent at the time.  The sniper fires off the shot and disarms you in front of people, leaving them in control.

I was confused as to what was behind this type of attack. Was it the fact that the company brought in a trainer, instead of her doing all the training? Did she feel threatened by me?

I" What have I gotten myself into?" This was the first time that I had ever been treated so poorly, humiliated and put into my place in front of all the students.  I stayed in the company for the six month contract, then voted with my feet. 

Signs of the Sniper

 The sniper hides and operates covertly.   When you are in front of others, they will throw out disarming remarks, sarcastic humor and rolling of the eyes, ​

Their aim is to make you look foolish and incompetent in front of others.

They are controlling and attention seekers.


Goal -  Is to expose the Sniper - Bring them out of Hiding

Step 1


Stop, look, backtrack

– Since your goal is to bring the Snipper out of hiding, you must first zero in on his or her hiding place. If it seems that someone is talking shots at you, stop! – Even in the middle of a sentence.​

Interrupting yourself brings attention to the Sniper, effectively blowing his or her cover.

 Look directly into the person’s eyes for a moment, and then calmly backtrack his or her remark.

Step 2



Use searchlight questions

 Now it’s time to turn on the searchlight, asking a question to draw the Sniper out and expose his or her behavior.

The two best questions are based on intent and relevancy: “When you say that (backtrack), what are you really trying to say?” and “What does that (backtrack) have to do with this?”

 The key to asking a searchlight question is to keep your tone neutral and maintain a neural (read “innocent) look on your face.

Step 3


Use Tank strategy if necessary

If a Sniper becomes a Tank, you may have actually improved the situation; at least now you know what the problem is! Use the strategy recommended for dealing with the Tank not only to command respect from the Sniper, but also from those who have witnessed the attack.

Do not overreact with the Sniper

This simply encourages the Sniper to dish out more of this behavior.

The Best attitude to develop is one of  amused curiosity.  Try not to take it personally, instead focus on the Sniper and bring them out of hiding.

Have a private Conversation with the Sniper


Have those conversations to clear the air

If you respect that someone is holding a grudge against you, but you’re not certain, see what you can scout out. If you find evidence that someone is harboring a grudge, you may want to clear the air.

 If you’re successful in bringing the grudge to the surface, listen carefully to all that your Sniper has to say. Once you fully understand and express appreciation for his or her candid description of the problem


Setting Boundaries

Whether in private or public, finish the interactions by suggesting an alternative behavior for the future.

 At the end of any encounter with the Sniper, it’s important to let him or her know that your preference in the future is open and friendly communication


Distinguish between friendly Snipers and malicious Snipers

 Friendly Sniping has its origins in the intent to get appreciated, the need for attention. Malicious Sniping, on the other hand, originates in the intent to get it done and fulfills the need for control by seeking to undermine the control of others


“You Decide to Step Over the Line

Commitment Leads to Action

Action Leads to Getting Different Results”

Lee Stemm

Remember your Goal 

 Gain Respect from the Sniper - Expose their position - Bring them out of hiding

On Demand - Conflict Management 101  - 6 Week Boot Camp  

Check out our Boot Camp - Delivery Options are available

Grab your Bonuses by enrolling into our next course

Add Content Block
Jul 24

Handling Difficult People – Aggressive, Direct and Dominating

By Lee Stemm | conflict

5 Steps to Handle the Tank 'Personality Type

Do you try to Counterattack Conflict with Bursts of Anger?

Or Perhaps simply wanting to shut down wishing you were invisible?

Losing Confidence trying to Defend yourself?

Waking up everyday dreading going to work?

Welcome to my series of articles and videos for Handling Difficult People. This information is based on the book ‘Dealing with Difficult People you Can’t Stand” by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirshner.

There are 10 difficult people personality types in this series. These are the Tank, The Sniper, The Know it all, The Think I know it all, The Yes person, The Nothing person, The Grenade, the No Person, The Maybe Person and the Whinner.

In this article I will be taking you through a 5-step plan to use when you are under attack by the Tank.

“I see so many people struggling with Conflict in the workplace today”. Having to deal with different personality types is a skill that is learnt through experience.  I know how it feels, I used to suffer the same thing when I first left school and started by first job as a data entry operator.

I had absolutely, no clue in working with people. You see conflict, relationships and handling finances; simply were not taught as I progressed through the years of schooling, preparing me for the real world. I was busy at school learning how to count to 10 in German and how to sew and cook.   What great waste of time, don’t you think?

Meeting the Tank

I remember meeting Joe who was a fellow working colleague in the data entry department.  Now I had heard a few stories from others about Joe, and he was a person that you knew not ‘to mess with’.  On my second day, I found myself staring down a loaded cannon, right in my face.  Yes, Joe had found me, and his sights were aimed, Ready, Steady, Fire.

Joe informed, in no uncertain terms, that I was not to speak to the office manager. We had a co-working small office; and the manager oversaw the building. Eyes bulging and voice raised, I was put into my place. How dare you speak to the office manager, that is my role, and all communication will come through me, Joe screamed. If you can’t follow instructions, then maybe this job is not for you, after all there are plenty of others who would jump at this job.

I could feel the eyes of the other co-workers focused on this humiliating screen. Joe really wanted to ensure I knew my place straight away.  I was certainly in shock and at that moment was completely lost for words. Then Joe backed away and it was over within a few seconds.

But here’s what I learnt about overcoming this type of behavior, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. Having over 30 years of work experience, with 18 years working in my own business as a trainer and coach, my confidence and skills have certainly developed since my first job.

Signs of the Tank

Joe had the classic symptoms of the Tank personality. His intense attack was simply motivated about being in control and having the status of importance. It was not personally at me; however, it certainly was an intense experience.  I just happened to be in line of fire.

When you are under fire with the tank, then you are targeted as part of the problem.  The aggressive behavior is eliminating the obstacle that you are representing. In Joe’s case it was control and status. 

When the workplace becomes a battlefield, and you hear the tank, then you know that it can turn ugly.  The Tank is completely focused on running over you, and impatiently pushes their point of view. There are direct, aggressive, forceful, impatient and simply just wanted to steam roll over others that are in their path.

You have three Options in how you to respond to the Tank

Option 1:

Counter Attack

You may be tempted to counterattack. Now the battle has commenced.  If you are an assertive person be careful not to turn into a tank yourself. Matching blow with blow, taking no prisoners.  You may win the battle, but you may lose the war. The Tank will rally the troops around them which will escalate into a divided team and culture.

Option 2

Defend Yourself

You may try to defend and explain or justify your position. Remember the tank is not interested in what you have to say. If anything, your defensive behavior will just add fuel to the fire, the Tank is not even listening to you, just reacting. I am sure you have listened to people making excuses before, knowing how infuriating this can be.

Option 3

Hide 'Please make me invisible"

You could completely shut down, say nothing, freeze in the middle of the battle, becoming a nothing person.  You withdraw internally and start to think about revenge or start to lose your confidence. Becoming smaller every second, doomed to be a casualty and left laying on the battlefield.  Fear fuels the tank as after all what they have said is correct, otherwise why would you behave like this. You hide away licking your wounds, saying to yourself ‘please make me invisible’, I just need to protect myself from the next tank blast.

Do not Become a Tank yourself and try to match Tank with Tank Characteristics

This will create outright War!!!!!!!

Tanks Respect People who are Assertive


You Decide that its time to Become more Assertive  - Here is  your 5 Step Action Plan

“You Decide to Step Over the Line

Commitment Leads to Action

Action Leads to Getting Different Results”

Lee Stemm

If you Commit - Do not Withdraw

Any attempt to attack or withdraw from the tank will not work for you. Instead, you must restrain these tendencies, and stand your ground. Having this strength of character to stand your ground, will influence the Tank’s perspective of you. Through Diversity your character is tested to its limits, and this will influence the Tank’s future behavior towards you.

Having a plan and preparation is a crucial part of success. The boy scout motto is “Be prepared”, the business motto is “Fail to Plan, then Plan to Fail”. The Action Plan below will give you some direction of  how to you handle the Tank, and command respect, by taking action.

5 Step Action Plan:


Hold your Ground?

Stay where you are, not trying to counterattack or run away from the situation. If you are standing, sitting or trying to make up your mind, do not change your position.  Don’t go on the offensive or defensive.  

Watch your non-verbal language along with your verbal. Look directly into the eyes of the Tank and breathe slowly. Bring your mind down to your center (located just below your belly button) and breath deeply into this point. Intentional breathing is a way of maintaining self-control.

Wait until the Tank has completely offloaded. Now it is time for you to speak by questioning. Explore the following dialogue.

Just the Tank stops blasting you then respond by:

Is that Everything?”

The Tank may reload, and the blast may begin again. Wait and focus on your breathing, respond by:

Anything Else?

The Tank may reload, however eventually they will run out of ammunition. Your job is simply to hold your ground, remember the breathing.

The Tank now is waiting for the normal response from you. This time you do it differently:

You say calmly, to the tank, Well I am going back to work now, and simply move away not getting caught up in the natural response of retaliation


The nonverbal message that you are sending is that I am focused on my job, and your efforts of intimidation has not worked.

 Actions can speak louder than words. Holding your ground can be enough to gain your respect from the Tank, however in case it doesn’t then move to the next step.


Interrupt the Attack

This is known as the broken record effect. You say their name repeatedly until you gain their full attention. Ensure that you say their name in a calm assertive voice. Five or six repetitions should be enough to gain the attention of your Tank. 

The Tank may try to override your voice by speaking louder. Nether less just keep on saying their name over until they stop.

There is no need to try and overpower the Tank. People who can show assertiveness can gain the respect from the Tank.  Just remain assertive, ensuring that you are not perceived of attacking back. Then proceed to the next step.


Quickly Backtrack

Now you have the Tank’s attention, backtrack the main concern of the Tank. This conveys the message that you have heard what the Tank has been saying. It is a way of demonstrating active listening and paraphrasing.

The Tank now registers that you have heard what they were saying, and now there is no need to keep on repeating the message. Ensure your summary is short concise and to the point, after all the Tank hasn’t got time to hang around. They like action and work at a fast pace. Proceed to the next step.


Aim for the bottom line and fire

Your bottom line varies according to your situation. It needs to be short and concise, no more than two sentences. Take ownership of your message, by saying:

“From my point of view” or “The way I see it”- What you say after will depend on the situation.

Here is an example

 Ï know that you would prefer all communication to the office manager to come from you ( back tracking and blending”, I way that I see this is the amount of time lost, when you are not around to gain the information that I am looking for, to complete this task. (bottom line) When you are ready to speak to me with respect, lets take some time out to discuss this further, to uncover the right solution. (redirecting future)

By redirecting the future, you are showing the Tank, that you are open to continue to have an open discussion about the issue that has been presented.  You have a wiliness to be on the same side and are not trying to attack them.  Proceed to next step.


Respect and Honor

Never try to shut the door to the Tank. They will simply bust through it, reigniting the attack. When the accusations are untrue or unreasonable, then allow them to have the last say, but you decide where and when.  

Example:  When I am finished with this presentation, then let’s get together to discuss this further.

The Tank is measuring up your character, and to the Tank it is simply a give-and-take between two people. They fire off a parting shot before you move on. Remember you may not win every battle; however, you will win respect from the Tank. Don’t be surprised as you start to gain more respect from the Tank that they start to become your ally in some future skirmish with another Tank.

What Happens If I am in the Wrong?

The fastest way to end the battle is :

  • Admit your mistake
  • State briefly what you have learnt from this experience
  • State what you will do differently in the future, ensuring this mistake doesn’t reoccur

Ensure you do Step 3 – This ensures that you will be changing your behavior, which allows the Tank to lower their sights. Now you are no longer their target. The Tank’s approach is not personal, it is simply they want the task completely quickly and efficiently. Your assurance that this won’t happen again allows the Tank to bring the battle to a halt.

Remember your Goal 

 Gain Respect from the Tank - Gain this  by being Assertive

On Demand - Conflict Management 101  - 6 Week Boot Camp  

Check out our Boot Camp - Delivery Options are available

Grab your Bonuses by enrolling into our next course

Jul 17

Apply Aikido Principles when Dealing with Conflict

By Lee Stemm | conflict

Overcoming Diversity is my Teacher, My Ego is My Enemy..”

Lee Stemm

Do you want to simply Learn about Conflict?

Or do you want to Master the Art ?

Experience the Principles of Aikido in your Customized Conflict Workshop for your Teams and Leaders


Can we Avoid Conflict?

Conflict is something that we can not avoid. The key is to understand how to manage it effectively not to try and avoid it.

 I work with a lot of team leaders and members who struggle with situations that involve conflict. Attending training courses will give you a better understanding and some tools to use when dealing with conflict; however, if you are hesitating in applying these to real situations then you may feel stuck; not able to move forward still.

Please remember when we are learning a new skill set it takes practice before we become efficient. Therefore, handling conflict effectively is the same as any other goal that we strive towards. Action is required before we achieve results.

What is Aikido?  How does it relate to Conflict?


Creates Inner Balance and Calmness

Aikido focuses on  keeping a strong internal balance  which is required in order to harmonize with others, which allows one to manipulate an opponent's assault as well as apply a highly effective counter strike. Self-control is key to preserving harmony and realizing victory.


The Principles in applying Aikido to daily life are

  • Peace & Harmony – Dealing with conflict through harmonization and promoting peace in daily life.
  • Balance & Centeredness – Finding our way to a point of physical, emotional and mental stability from which difficulties can be faced with acceptance instead of fear.
  • Mindfulness – Being in the Now. Meditative awareness of the present moment without judgement.
  • Beginner’s Mind – Being “ready for anything, open to everything”.
  • Life Force (Ki/Chi) awareness – exploration of the internal art
  • 3

    It is an Defensive Art  - Non Attacking 

    Aikido is the art of taking another person’s attack and neutralizing its effectiveness by redirecting it in a peaceful and nonviolent way. Aikido was born out of a combination of Morihei Ueshiba’s mastery of different martial arts and his philosophical views.

     Aikido allows a person to deal with an attack or issue while considering the safety of the attacker. The goal of Aikido is a nonviolent end to a confrontation.

    A bit about my Martial Arts Journey and some of my insights ...............

    As I am writing this article I am reflecting on the changes and different perspectives that I have gained over the 30 years whilst being involved in martial arts. These principles I use in everyday life and teach within my leadership programs.

    There is only a small percentage of people who undertake martial arts that will gain their black belt ranking. This normally takes around 3 – 4 years of dedicated training to achieve this level. The saying in the Martial Arts world is once you receive your black belt, then the real training begins. Yes, you have just achieved beginner level. This is the time when you begin to give back to others, start to understand the trainings at a deeper level. You start to move into mastering the art not simply going through the motions.

    For the first 9 years of my martial arts training I gained black belt ranking in Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Non-Traditional Kung Fu. I was the student that thought okay I got my black belt, lets move on. You know simply ticking the boxes. Setting the goals and then looking for the next one to achieve. It wasn’t until I started Aikido that I finally got it.  Deciding to master your art is so empowering. It was truly a turning point for me, and I started to see things in a different perspective. The invisible became visible.

    It was the time that my teacher asked me to teach others. It was the joy of passing on my knowledge and seeing the appreciation of the junior students when I took time to support and encourage them in their training. Whist the junior black belts were training with ego, I was nurturing the beginners ensuring that I challenged them enough to extend themselves, without breaking their spirit.  I was extremely fortunate to experience this sense of giving back and have deep gratitude towards my teacher.

    I apply these principles in my everyday life. Lets explore how these can be transferred into the workplace.


    Practice -  Conflict can be awkward, and you may feel a sense of anxiety or stress when dealing with it. The focus here is to act, to participant with the intention of developing your skill sets to manage conflict more effectively.  As you start to act, you will become more confident.  During my Aikido days as a beginner I also felt this nervousness, uncertain if I can ever learn the art to it’s fullest. Simply training everyday increased my skill set. Watching and observing will never develop your skill set. It takes discipline to keep showing up everyday, just taking those small steps that all add up. 

    Everyday I would turn up, even when I wasn't motivated to train. I would compare myself with others, thinking how easy it was for them to train with ease, whilst I seemed to struggle; and at times felt like I was simply spinning my wheels.

    One day my teacher said to me, those who find things easy to do, move on looking for the next challenge, those who struggle are the ones who will eventually surpass others, as they develop the determination to achieve and master the art. Others will lose interest and simply move on.

    As a leader you simply have to keep on turning up, focusing on mastering the art of leadership. All the struggles that you come up against, will create the true character of leadership; as you strive everyday to further develop your skills.  Remember to keep your ego in check and have humility as your friend.


    Being Centered – Conflict can be unexpected. It can easily put you into the fight or flight syndrome. You may feel completely blind sided by the conflict; leaving you off balance and reacting to the situation. The Aikido Principle of being centered;  will assist you in remaining calm.  Having calmness will give you more approaches and chooses to consider.  You can respond appropriately and take the actions that will achieve the relationships that all Leaders are inspiring towards. 

    This is a core of everything. Being able to respond instead of reacting to situations.  The principles of centering can be viewed by watching this video with Tom Crum. 

    Watch the Video to See How to Center Yourself - Keeping Calm and Focused

    • Be Flexible with your point of views - view the situation and have the ability to change when necessary 
    • Train yourself to use your center of gravity to remain centered and balanced  - This will create stability creating a state of calmness
    • When you are off balance then this will show up in how you handle conflict

    Would you like to Experience this concept yourself ? 

    Then Book in for one of our  Conflict Management Workshops with Lee


    Resistance – Listen before being Understood – This is one of the principles of Stephen Covey’s – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – We all have different perspectives and opinions, which makes us all unique.  Resistance can be when we have expectations that our point of view is the only one that is valid.

     Aikido Training is about redirecting someone’s energy not meeting it head on. We use circular movements to extend our partner’s energy forward not by stopping it. This creates off balance whilst we remain centered. Being able to stand beside them and calm down the situation with the appropriate action maintaining harmony, whilst maintaining a relationship based on respect.


    Mind Set – Our belief systems and values play a large part in the actions that we take in our everyday life. Taking time out to check your beliefs is a key to achieving the results that we desire as leaders.  

    This is called reflective thinking. Do we sabotage ourselves with beliefs such as not good enough, comparing ourselves with others; or have we forgotten about humility and supporting others?  

    Aikido is about harmony and getting along with others. It is having an awareness of what is going on around you. I often am asked if I have ever had to use my aikido skills. My belief is that a good martial artist doesn’t use their skills as they seem to sense what is going on around them and are able to defuse the situation before it escalates.  You simply know your partner’s intentions and respond effectively.


    Mentors – Having a mentor will assist you in your continual professional development. These are your trusted advisors who will support, encourage and challenge you to step up to be the best version of yourself.

     My aikido teacher was always there for me. I didn’t always like what he would say, however once I reflected on his words, these encouraged me to continue training and striving towards mastering the art. I remember a conversation that I had with my mentor before I achieved my 3rd Dan Ranking, “do you simply what to train, or master the art?”

     I choose to master the art. Do you want to be a leader or master leadership?

    It has been a pleasure sharing my passion with you  in this article, and thank you for taking time to read it. My other passions are Leadership and Personal Development. 

    Live Your Life to its Fullest - The question is not do you have joy in your life, the question is who have you brought joy to?

    If I can help - Simply reach out

    Error: The quiz is no longer available!

    Jun 15

    Study Reveals – Conflict is the major factor to stress

    By Lee Stemm | conflict

    Can we have a Conflict FREE Workplace?

    “Conflict is inevitable;

    but combat is optional”

    Max Lucado

    Published The Australian 10th June 2019

    AccessEAP released data showing conflict between managers and their colleagues are the top 10 issues facing Australian workers.

    RADSTAD chief executive says – The biggest cause of stress is expectations of working long hours followed by unclear role expectations, fear of redundancy and pressure from mangers

    Describe Conflict - 4 Words or Less

    Lets do an exercise first before you go through the blog information.  If you could describe conflict in less that 4 words what would you say?  Take a minute to write these down.

    The Problem:

    Our perceptions around conflict have been based on how we have handled conflict in the past; or how we have observed  others handling it.

    It is like anything we do. If we are not informed on the best practices of achieving something, then we will have to learn by making mistakes and this can take a long time and leave us doubting ourselves.

    Imagine jumping into a car and you have no knowledge of how to drive or even how the car works. You may find out after a while; however you may have some traumatic experiences along the way. 

    If conflict is not handled effectively then you may start to experience some of the symptoms outlined in this blog.

    Such as loss of high performing team members, loss of productivity, increased costs for recruiting and training and this all leads to having a toxic workplace that reduces morale and co-operation. 

    The Solution:

    Change your perspective around conflict and know that when handled probably it helps and drives your teams to come up with the following:

    • New Ideas and innovation
    • Encourages keeping open minds for new opportunities
    • Assists Solutions through problem solving
    •  Increases engagement
    • Removes Stagnation and complacency

    This are just a few benefits. The secret is knowing how to manage conflict through respect and leadership.

    Three Types of Conflict ........

    Inner Conflict

    Internal conflict is the experience of having opposing psychological beliefs, desires, impulses or feelings. In the field of psychology, internal conflict is often referred to as  cognitive dissonance“,  which is a term that refers to holding conflicting and inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.

    This mental struggle can occur at any point in life over any topic such as relationships, work commitments, religious beliefs, moral standpoints, and social ideologies.

    Have you heard of the story with the devil and angel, having competing perspectives? You know that internal dialogue that we have when we have two opposing values or ideas. Sometimes to stop the inner conflict we simply need to decide and take a stance? In  my opinion being indecisive will lead you to not doing anything. I would rather make a mistake and learn from the lessons, then feeling completely stuck and flying under the radar. Which would you prefer?

    How to Handle Inner Conflict

    • Don’t push away annoying thoughts – the more you push them away the more intense they will become. Allow your subconscious mind to receive the messages. Instead of trying to get rid of the thoughts focus on explore the solutions or possibilities that will overcome the situation
    • Keep to you value system – Ensuring that you are not violating your values is also a key to overcome your conflict. If you are asked to do something that is against your core values; then have a conversation with the person and state your position in a way that demonstrates respect and understanding
    • Keep committed to your agreements – If you say you are going to do something; then follow through and be accountable and responsible.
    • Write your conflicts down – Keep a journal and record your conflicts. Get them out of your head. Journaling is and effective tool to simply gain more clarity
    • Mediation – Relax and allow yourself some quite time to process and think things through
    • When you make mistakes own up and do what is necessary to make the situation right.

    “The Future is determined by the actions that we take to-day ”

    Lee Stemm

    Interpersonal Conflict

    This is conflict that is observed by external behaviors with others. This is where we are trying to get our point of view across to others.

    Or maybe trying to impose our beliefs and expectations onto others.  Maybe there is a difference in the process of achieving goals or feeling threatened of loss.

    You know loss of control, status, independence, certainty, failure to name just a few.

     You may start to feel anger, frustration, overwhelm and stressed out with other co-workers.

    How to Handle Interpersonal Conflict

  • If personal speak directly to the person who you are having conflict with
  • Ensure the timing is right and you are using the right environment that is private
  • Listen to their perspectives – Ask questions – Use Active Listening skills
  • Communicate your perspective whilst having empathy
  • Bring the conversation back to the big picture - Gaining agreements along the way
  • Identify the real source of the conflict
  • Come up with some solutions that both parties can agree upon
  • Complete an action plan and agreement forms to move forward
  • Monitor and evaluate the progress – Maintain a professional relationship
  • “Emotional Awareness is necessary so you can convey your thoughts and feeling properly  to others  ”

    Lee Stemm

    Group / Team Conflict


    This involves different groups or teams within the workplace. Some conflict issues occur due to different distribution of resources between teams or departments.

    For example:

    I remember a time when I was working as a Business Development Manager in the Sales Team within a company. We had a good operations team as well. Whilst it was important for the Sales team to interact with the operations team conflict did arise at times.

    As the sales team expanded from just me to a total of 4 Business Development Managers the resources of having separate rooms and workstations became an issue.

     I remember all of being set up in the same room – desk to desk. I found this extremely to difficult to concentrate and also to make calls as it was at times quite loud and hard to hear my clients on the phone.

    We were all struggling within the team and had several conversations with the directors about this situation. The directors did not take any action to come up with solutions to the problem, and just let it up to us to work it out.

    Now the Operations team being established longer all had separate offices.  They were not exposed to the same struggles that the sales team were experiencing with sharing space. During the conflict we started to resent the other team as there was understanding of our needs.

    Do you see the fact that one team had more resources then the other can cause conflict? This was not handled well and I left the company along with others at that time.

     Your high performers will  leave if the environment is not healthy. Imagine if all you had left within your teams were under performers.

    How to Handle Team / Group Conflict


  • The first place to start is to be trained in some basic conflict handling Skills – Send your team and leaders onto a conflict management course. It is more effective to be prepared as conflict cannot be avoided.
  • Be aware of the existing conflict issues of your team – Always pay attention to your team members and watch for the early signs of conflict
  • Set in place Team Alignment principles, ground rules, values, clarity of roles, expectations, goals, vision, purpose and know their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Understand the difference between destructive conflict and healthy conflict
  • Discuss all perspectives and remain neutral
  • Look for solutions and gain agreements of how to move forward
  • Don’t change the team members – this will only lead to resentment and the conflict is left unresolved.
  • On Demand Training - 6 Week Boot Camp Conflict Management Course

    This is a self paced online program with follow up Coaching sessions to support the implementation.

    To read course outlines and how it is delivered hit the READ MORE  Button below.