Week 9

Working With People and Managing Conflict


This week is about managing crises and conflict. This week we will be focusing on 1) your coping resources and how it can help you manage times of stress and 2) how leaders handle crises at the workplace and suggestions for how to lead in difficult times.

Crises and Conflict

I used to work for a crisis hotline while I was working on my undergraduate degree in psychology. I learned more than how to handle others' crises, I also learned how to be a better communicator, how to provide empathy, and be an active listener. These three skills helped me assist those in crises but it also helped me listen and communicate to my friends and family. I want to share what these skills are and how to employ them in your own lives and also in your professional interactions:

Active Listening


We will be touching upon these skills more next week and I want you to be familiar with these terms and how one can be an active listener and use empathy while communicating.

Leadership During a Crisis

Like the previous weeks in this class, this week's readings also talk about steps leaders can take to help their organizations through a crisis. I am going to review a few of these suggestions mentioned in this week's readings.


I find it funny that one would "plan" for a crisis but it actually a great idea to think of how you might handle a specific set of situations so if something similar happens then you and your organization have a plan of action. Bethell (2015) maintained that planning for a crisis might seem odd and that some leaders decide not to plan for crises. They feel that the unexpected crisis would be too unique and any planning would not apply, and therefore, be a waste of time. Watkins (2009) suggests that leaders need to create specific crisis scenarios and have documentation and simulation exercises on how they would work through those situations. Every crisis is unique, however, planning can actually help leaders identify resources, communication strategies, and protocols that would help in any crisis situation.


In my opinion, one of the worst things leadership can do in a crisis or stressful situation is not communicate. I have been in situations when there was a crisis and we did not hear from our leadership and we learned the news of our organization's crisis from the local newspaper. Many rumors began to spread and most people at the organization were on edge and stressed out about what is going to happen. Bethell (2015) suggests that communication is vital to any crisis and that leaders should communicate "early and often" to be out in front of crises so the organization can shape the story and facts regarding the crisis before rumors and misinformation spread in a workplace or in social media.


I think humor is probably not at the top of many lists on how to deal with crises and stressful situations in the workplace, however, having a sense of humor in the right situation can help diffuse anxiety. Germano (2009) discusses how well-placed humor can be an empathetic response when situations are tough. It can help provide levity and be a "welcome respite." Humor is also a personal coping mechanism and we will talk about this, and other ways, leaders can use coping resources to help with interpersonal and intrapersonal crises next week.


Baldoni, J. (2011). How a good leader reacts to a crisis. Harvard Business Review. Available Online: https://hbr.org/2011/01/how-a-good-leader-reacts-to-a

Bethell, R. (2015). Crisis communications: Leadership is crucial. LinkedIn. Available Online: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/crisis-communications-leadership-matters-most-ross-bethell

George, B. (2009). Leadership in a crisis - how to be a leader. The Wall Street Journal. Available in your course resources on Sakai.

Germano, M. A. (2009). 10 attributes for leaders during times of crisis. HR Practice. Available in your course resources on Sakai.

Schulte, B. (2009). Crisis management: Leading successfully through the storm. Available Online: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-leaders/articles/2009/11/24/crisis-management-leading-successfully-through-the-storm

Van Dusen, A. (2008). How we really repsond in a crisis. Forbes. Available Online: https://www.forbes.com/2008/09/02/crisis-reaction-health-forbeslife-cx_avd_0902health.html

Watkins, M. (2002). Your crisis response plan: The ten effective elements. Harvard Business School. Available Online: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/your-crisis-response-plan-the-ten-effective-elements