Attitude in conflicts and collaboration matters

A glass of red wine half full with the upper of the glass half labeled full and the lower half labeled empty

So much of what you do and say is shaped in part by your own attitude. In disputes and conflicts on the negative side and with collaboration and alignment on the positive side, attitude matters. In society today you see racial strife, uncertain economics, covid-19, less human touch, additional stress, and many other issues, it is amazingly easy to see the downside. On the upside with working from home, not having to commute, connecting virtually, spending more time at home, and having more time to concentrate on other things do you take time to reflect on what you are grateful for? Your attitude is key for so many of life’s twists and turns. This commentary explores your attitude and how you can impact your attitude towards conflict and collaboration.


Being grateful


The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley and the free course on Happiness from Yale University each propose the first step is pausing to be grateful. They suggest taking five minutes at the start of your day to reflect on what you are grateful for. Consider doing this while starting your day. Smile in the mirror. Say good morning to your community. I live in Roseville, so I say, “Good morning Roseville”. I think of the movie Good Morning Vietnam and smile. Then think about what you are grateful for. Personally, I start with my wife of over 30 years and go from there. Tink of things you are grateful for such as relatives, friends, neighbors, community, state, country, shelter, nutritious food, clean water, health, healthcare, money in the bank and more. Here is a list of 60 things to be thankful for if you cannot think of other things.


Believe in yourself


Believe in yourself. Avoid finding fault. Our natural tendency is to view something with skepticism and negativity. This helped us survive as a species. On the other hand, turn this around. Be curious. Check your assumptions. Suspend negative judgment. Adopt a positive attitude towards life. Be more flexible. Reinforce positive self-talk to yourself. You can do this. Use self-distancing by using your own name. For example, my name is Mike. I might say, “Come on Mike, you can do this”. Be positive. By providing yourself with positive self-talk this can help. This is not about self-help books. Self help books build you, but unfortunately you come back down. Then the industry encourages you to buy more to help bring yourself up again. This is about believing in yourself, focusing on the problem, and encouraging yourself to stay focused even in tough times. Looking for help outside of self-help books, check this out from Psychology Today.


Avoid being negative


Blame helps no one. Avoid the two stinky twins of BO and BS. BO is blaming others and BS is blaming self. If you find yourself blaming yourself with what you could of, would of, of should of have done, pause. Instead. Look at the situation differently and say what could I or we do to improve or make this better in the future. The key words are “we” and “future”. See what you might do and when in conflict with someone else or with collaborating with others, focus on the “we” and “future. Take the initiative to be positive and work with the other party. Forgive the other party. Do not focus on the past. Focus on the future with a better outcome.


Practice compassion


Compassion has three components. These are calm, consistent, and competent. You want your physician of health provider to practice compassion. You can enhance your skills in this area with a class on compassion and/or anger management. Make a point of being more compassionate with loved ones, people at work, and others. This will allow you to be more consistent in tense situations. Enhance your skills to be more competent. Consider both your technical and social (now called critical) skills. Work on both areas for improvement. All to often there is an overemphasis on project management techniques, the latest software, and other technological advances. With artificial intelligence, the key to the future is on the critical skills associated with servant leadership, and various intelligences related to emotional, conversational, and listening components.




Surround yourself with positive people. Associate with others that are positive. Consider a positive group like the Optimists club. This group has an optimists creed that members have as a goal to live by. Admiral Stockdale was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 8 years. He has formulated the Stockdale Paradox. In short do not set yourself up for failure with hopeful, but unrealistic expectations. Instead have faith that in the end your will achieve. He found that those who thought they would be out of the North Vietnamese prison known as the Hanoi Hilton by various dates died of a broken heart. “Keep the faith that you will prevail in the end and that you cannot afford to lose, with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts on your current reality, whatever they may be”. This is a good philosophy for all of us. Do not simply look for the bright side. There are down times. Rather focus on prevailing in the end.


Practice mindfulness


Above you learned that being grateful can allow for more time to rejuvenate your mind and improve overall outlook each day and productivity. At the same time working from home can make you feel trapped or discouraged with distractions at home and missing the ability to seamlessly be able to collaborate with others. What is the one thing you control? Your attitude to the situation. Another way to enhance your own personal well being is with mindfulness for at least 10 minutes a day each day. Studies have shown that 10 minutes a day of prayer, reflection, meditation, or yoga can clear your pre-frontal cortex and give you more peace of mind. Studies have shown that after 21 days participants were calmer, had more focus, and lowered their blood pressure.

Take these six ideas and choose one or more that may work for you and try them. See if this may help you with conflicts and with collaboration with others. Having a positive attitude, starting your day with gratefulness, having a “can do” perspective, being hard on the problem and soft on the people, practicing compassion, being optimistic with realistic long-term expectations, and practicing mindfulness for at least 10 minutes a day can make a real difference.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]