Conflict Coaching – How it works in practice by Alison Love

September 20th, 2018

Whilst mediation can be very powerful it is not always appropriate or possible in every case so it is necessary to have a range of tools at your disposal. Conflict coaching is a very good one to have in your tool box.

Two years ago I trained as a CINERGY conflict management coach. Since that time, I have been using conflict coaching increasingly to support and supplement the services that we provide and in a variety of situations. I thought that it would be a good time to review some of the cases where conflict coaching has proved to be of real help and value.

Firstly, a bit about CINERGY

  • The model is based on research and principles of conflict management informed by both psychology and neuroscience. Essentially it works by unpicking a conflict situation from different perspectives. This enables the individual concerned to make greater sense of it and to identify and explore what practical actions they may wish to take.
  • The model delves quite deeply into the situation and what lies behind it. This is important as it allows space and time for the client to process things and enables learning and self-reflection.
  • The value of following the model in a sequential way ensures that the client considers the situation from their own perspective first and then switches to consider it from the perspective of the other person(s).
  • Once the situation is better understood, the model then explores the options for resolution and considers the pros and cons of each so that the client can decide what action they will take. Finally, it can be used to help prepare for and rehearse the next steps.

Some examples of how we have used conflict coaching

  • Where parties are reluctant or indicating an unwillingness to mediate– Offering conflict coaching in these situations can help individuals take a first step towards engaging in real discussions about resolution and accept that they have a part to play in achieving this. We are finding that individuals are often more willing to agree to coaching; there is perhaps more of a feeling of control and that they are not committing to a particular course of action. Also, there are some real barriers to individuals agreeing to mediation which is perhaps seen as too formal a process.

In some cases, the conflict coaching itself has been enough to help individuals understand and accept the situation and to move forward. In other situations, individuals have opted to deal with situations directly and will then be in a position to take the next steps in a more informed and more prepared manner. Alternatively, clients can come to a decision that mediation is an appropriate next step to take; in practice this has occurred in many of the situations that we have dealt with in this way.

  • To prepare a client for a mediation process. Coaching can also be used to support an individual in gaining the confidence to take part in mediation and to manage themselves throughout. Generally, the coaching would give an individual more time to explore and reflect on the situation than would be possible in a pre-mediation meeting. This has been particularly helpful where one or other party has been very nervous or anxious about a joint meeting and/or where their mental well-being has been impacted. Conflict coaching can go a long way to enabling an individual to reflect on the situation, understand the other’s perspective and the part that they have played in the conflict. These are all important learnings that will transfer to the mediation session. Also, as the coaching is separate from any joint meeting there is not so much pressure or a feeling that they have committed to this by engaging in the coaching.


  • Post mediation– Mediation can often be an important first step towards resolution. However, in many cases there is a need for some sustained effort beyond this either to sustain changes to behavior or to rebuild trust over time. I have recently used coaching as a support following a mediation which has proved to be very successful in enabling the parties to reflect on their communication and conflict styles and to improve the working relationship. I was delighted when one client indicated that on a scale of 1-10 the working relationship had increased from a 3 to an 8. I love it when that happens!


  • Where one party refuses to mediate– It can be difficult to gain agreement from all concerned and this can leave some individuals struggling to understand how to manage the situation. Coaching can be used here as an alternative intervention and support to enable individuals to reconcile a situation, identify an action and attain the skills and confidence to tackle issues themselves and/or come to terms with the situation.

If you would like more information about how conflict management coaching could help you or your organisation please contact either myself ([email protected])  or Dionne Dury ([email protected]) and we would be delighted to discuss it further with you.

In addition, if you are interested in learning more about the CINERGY conflict coaching model and seeing it put into practice we have an Introduction to Conflict Coaching open course running in Cardiff on 11th October or we can provide this as an in-house course. For full details click here.

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The report was very professional, it dealt with all the issues raised and was particularly thorough. It clearly took the time to fully understand all of the issues and background. It was complex but the report really helped to break it down and I’m hoping we can progress in a positive manner following the recommendations.

Group HR Manager, Energy Sector |

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