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10 Steps to Solve Tension Between Team Mates

bridge connection

I tend to hold back too long, when team mates have tension. Let them work it out. Perhaps you intervene quickly. If we aren’t careful, we become the problem.

Tension and diversity:

Tension between team mates is the unrealized potential of diversity. No tension means everyone thinks the same.

Diversity invites volatility.

Successful leaders connect diverse people. Weak teams celebrate uniformity. Strong teams leverage diversity.

Diversity compensates for weaknesses
only if we celebrate the strengths of others.

Intervene when tensions:

  1. Distract from priorities.
  2. Create tensions in others.
  3. Drain energy.
  4. Persists. Unsolved tension predicts unsatisfying futures.


Never begin solving relational tensions with the black-hole question, “Why is this happening?” You just entered the fruitless land of “He did this” and “She said that.”

A bridge building conversation:

  1. Invite them to a “work on your work relationship” meeting.
  2. Explain your high hopes.
  3. Clarify: you aren’t fixing their relationship. (Essential)
  4. Question one: How satisfying is your work relationship, 1 to 10?
  5. Question two: How important is improving your work relationship, 1-10?
  6. Question three: What satisfaction number would make your work relationship fulfilling, 1-10?
  7. Question four: How would you describe great work relationships? (Ask each person for three expressions.)
  8. Question five: What’s essential to building great work relationships? (Ask for three things from each.)
  9. Explore one response from each person. Bob, you said, “Great work relationships are supportive.” What does support look like to you? Search for observable behaviors.
  10. Use responses to questions four and five to determine one or two things each person will do to build a great work relationship.

Tip: Monitor emotions during the conversation. Tension means slow down or set that issue aside for a future conversation.

Work relationships deserve more than knee-jerk strategies. It’s always about the people. Consider this conversation a beginning. Plan follow-ups.

When do you intervene?

How can you improve or add to the conversation described above?

Learn how to build trust from the trust expert, Stephen M.R. Covey. Free audio webinar:

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