Thoughts and Insights by Michael Gregory

Conflict Resolution

Hammer coming down on a nail with statement "I'm the boss"
July 4th, 2022

Should you lead with compassion, toughness, or empathy –why does this matter?

To avoid negative conflict and disputes and to promote collaboration, alignment, and purpose it is important to lead with compassion, have appropriate toughness, and listen with empathy. As a leader all of these matter. When someone is not performing well how should you proceed? Frustration is often a first response. I am sure you can relate. Especially if it reflects negatively on you. Responding with negative reinforcement is an initial knee jerk reaction, but research shows that when confronted with an underperforming employee that compassion and curiosity with suspended judgment works better. With appropriate coaching  to the individual, you may have far better results. Compassion and empathy build trust. You want greater trust to promote improvement.

A C-clamp squeezing a wallet with dollar bills in it
June 27th, 2022

Is the IRS Job Aid on Reasonable Compensation still relevant?

The IRS valuers identified reasonable compensation as one of the top issues for audit. Differences of opinion by valuers in the private sector and IRS valuers could lead to conflict and disputes on examination, leading to Appeals, and potentially to litigation. This commentary defines reasonable compensation, introduces the IRS Job Aid and Appendix, provides links to some recent IRS papers related to reasonable compensation, introduces how various levels at the IRS look at the issue, provides links to relevant court cases and key factors for consideration from those court cases, and provides a source for contemporary commentary on this topic.

African descent woman with hair in a bun walking away from the camera
June 20th, 2022

Diversity, Inclusion, Hair, and Business Results - What do they have in common?

What do diversity, inclusion, hair, and business results have to do with each other. Conflicts or disputes may arise from one of a number of issues. To avoid conflicts or disputes takes an active effort to promote communication and collaboration. When you think of diversity you likely think about the primary level of what you can see, and you think about areas such as race, age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, sexual orientation, and class. As a secondary level below the human surface, you may think of elements of religious beliefs, nationality, geographic location, marital status, parental status, education, income, work background, and military experience may come to mind. Finally at a third level elements of learning style, personality, or professional orientation may come to mind. All of these are relevant related to diversity, but in today’s commentary the focus is on the primary level with a focus on hair and what you can see.

holograms of five different people in various colors
June 13th, 2022

How to address employee conflict and reduce turnover

Everyone likes to work for a kind, considerate, caring, professional supervisor and on a team where everyone is valued and aligned towards a common goal. Everyone looks out for one another and the overall goals of the firm. However, when negative employee conflict or disputes arise, and they are not addressed in a timely and in an appropriate manner this can cause a host of problems including lower productivity, lower morale, increased costs, and employee turnover. The question arises with what can you do to reduce and address employee conflict and reduce employee turnover? That is the focus of this article.

Puzzle pieces for a difficult puzzle
May 30th, 2022

Ten tips to overcome difficult conversations

Have you been in a conflict or dispute with someone else and felt you were 100% right and that they were 100% wrong? Did it ever occur to you that, just maybe you were not 100% right. The easy decisions in life are truly yes-no decisions. However, the more difficult decisions and controversies tend to have shades of gray associated with them. You may perceive the other party as being difficult and you may be trying to determine how to deal with difficult people. This commentary explores steps you can take when you are in a strong disagreement with someone else. Instead of digging in and reinforcing your position, explore these ten tips to overcome difficult conversations

Two opposite pictorial views of positive and negative appear to be banging into each other while words like bias, antagonism and others are in the background
May 23rd, 2022

Business valuation experts are biased and so are you – so what do you do?

Four experts in behavioral finance conducted extensive research and wrote an article entitled, “Are Business Valuators Biased? A Psychological Perspective on the Causes of Valuation Disputes.”  This article explores the insights gained from their research. In short, yes, business valuers are biased on at least three levels. When given a number from a client as to what the client thinks, that is an “anchor” bias or when knowing the client is a buyer or seller that is called engagement bias to have a lower or higher number. Cognitive bias impacts the number supplied by the business valuer. When considering whether the business valuer is biased or not 58.7% believed the other side was biased and 25.1% believed that they were biased. Your bias can hurt or harm you during a negotiation on your conclusion of value too. Using your bias can be an advantage in a negotiation sometimes too.

Three figures arguing with various colorful on each image
May 15th, 2022

What does it mean to disagree well?

To encourage collaboration, healthy competition, and overcome conflicts and disputes one technique you can apply is to disagree well. You like many in our society today appreciate monologues that are provided to you by those with whom you agree to reaffirm positions, how smart you are, and how angry you should be with those that do not share that same perspective. The classic example in our society today has to do with reds and blues in our current political environment. Braver Angels offers an opportunity to overcome these differences with dialogue. This is one example of how to disagree well. The commentary that follows addresses the issue of what does it mean to disagree well.

Hand holding a deck of cards
May 8th, 2022

The games people play in negotiations and mediations and how to address them

To avoid conflicts and to help resolve disputes in a negotiation or a mediation it is important to know your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) and to consider the other party’s BATNA in order to work to resolve the situation. Before entering into the situation knowing that if your BATNA is not met you will simply walk away gives you room to exercise your own power. Knowing that you have tried your best to work with the other side, but what has been offered will not be acceptable so you need to move on This article explores how knowing your BATNA and what to consider can help you in a negotiation. It is important to understand why negotiations fail.

A series of white doors with one gold door
May 1st, 2022

How amazing that our brain can adapt to address conflict and promote collaboration

You may believe that you cannot control your anger. You may believe that conflict and disputes are fixed in our brains. However, our brains are unique in that they are the only organ that has the ability to change and adapt. This is called neuroplasticity. Some interesting research has found how our brains can adapt even when up to half of the brain is missing. Now think about this from the perspective on how your brain can adapt and change when addressing conflict or a dispute.

A fist punching through a glass hole
April 24th, 2022

Overcome anger in negotiations and mediations

When involved in a negotiation, mediation, a conflict, or a dispute a natural response is to become defensive, angry, and/or frustrated when things do not go well. A question arises as to how you can remain focused on the problem, remain calm, confident, and competent without letting anger take over. When you are angry you are not thinking as clearly, you may make poor decisions, and the ramifications may be extremely consequential. Knowing this, the commentary in this article addresses how to prevent anger from taking over, and how to overcome anger should it surface in a negotiation or a mediation.

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