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Never Say “Calm Down”: How People Unintentionally Escalate Conflict on Your Team with Carol Bowser

Episode 60

Carol Bowser, J.D is a workplace conflict expert. After practicing Employment Law for several years, Carol founded Conflict Management Strategies when she realized a lawsuit can’t deliver the level of resolution and satisfaction that is gained when people are actively involved in creating solutions to their workplace conflict.

Carol’s clients come with a wide range of employers because conflict is universal across all industries and types of organizations. Where there are people, there is conflict. The key is to help people recognize and address conflict before it damages working relationships and creates organizational drag. In her over 20 years of experience, she has discovered some universal themes about workplace conflict and loves to share how people at all levels can strengthen their conflict resolution muscles.

Contact Carol at

What You’ll Learn How people inadvertently escalate conflict when trying to de-escalate The most common responses to difficult conversations and now to recognize the responses A simple framework to prepare for the conversation How to set and manage expectations for the conversation

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Episode Minute By Minute:
0:02 Introduction to conflict management skills as essential for managers and the lack of adequate training in many organizations.
1:23 Dr. Mike introduces Carol Bowser, a workplace conflict expert and founder of Conflict Management Strategies.
3:04 Carol joins the podcast, sharing her location and discussing the beautiful spring day in Tacoma, Washington.
4:03 Emphasis on preventing conflict and navigating it effectively once it arises.
6:31 Carol discusses common and impactful workplace conflicts, emphasizing how terms like harassment and bullying escalate situations and involve extensive investigations.
9:21 Challenges of managing unsubstantiated claims and the fear of retaliation in the workplace.
11:12 Discussion on creating a psychologically safe workplace and the importance of managers understanding their team to effectively manage conflict.
14:34 The importance of never saying "calm down" as it can unintentionally escalate conflict.
17:33 Strategies for managers to prepare for difficult conversations and recognize signs of underlying issues.
21:11 The value of establishing trust and psychological safety within teams to foster open communication.
25:03 Managing expectations and the approach to serious, sensitive conversations in the workplace.
29:30 Carol outlines the various services she provides as a mediator, trainer, and speaker.
33:19 Final advice for listeners on how to be proactive in addressing concerns and managing workplace conflicts.

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