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No One Fights With You Like Family

No One Fights For You Like Family

No One Fights With You Like Family

By: Ross Paterson

We have a twenty-year-old tradition with our extended family vacations:

After the event, Ross (aka Dad, Uncle Ross, and now Grandpa) makes a highlight video. (Click here for a sample). The beauty is, all you remember when you watch the video is the fun stuff. Not the conflict, drama, and frustration that occurs when 8 families spread across 4 generations try to hang out for a week.


No one fights with you like family; no one fights for you like family.

Our teams at work can be like families in many ways. The smaller the business, the more this is true. With most of our SMB clients, the work team also includes actual family members.  We have clients where spouses, children, parents, cousins, and even ex-husbands are all on the employee roster. What could go wrong?

  • XM Truth #1:
    • If your team has more than one person, there will be conflict
  • XM Truth #2:
    • Conflict is normal
  • XM Truth #3:
    • Healthy conflict resolution is a trainable skill

Teams with no conflict probably aren’t getting much done – ‘yes men’ working for autocrats rarely change the world.  The flip-side: if you have a team with high levels of dysfunctional conflict, their work is equally inefficient and at times caustic.


Somewhere in the middle, the highest performing teams learn how to manage healthy conflict. Passionate, high performers are going to disagree on business strategy and tactics on a regular basis; training them to resolve conflict in a healthy way will change your team’s performance forever.


3 tips to keep team conflict healthy:

  1. Learn how to overcome the body’s natural responses to conflict. Our fight or flight instincts work well in a wild animal attack but eliminate our brain’s ability to solve complex problems at work.
  2. Make it a best practice to call a 2-24 hour time-out when things get heated.
  3. Find language that lets conflict happen in a healthy way. For example, schedule time to ‘rumble’ about controversial topics.


Check out our 5 part series for more help with SMB teams and conflict:

  1. The Patterns of Conflict
  2. Dealing with the Physiological Effects of Conflict
  3. You Wanna Fight Me?
  4. How Do People Handle Conflict?
  5. Three Rules for Better Conflict Conversations