How to Deal With Unexpected Conflict in your Business

How to Deal with Unexpected Conflict in your Business by Christine Kane, Uplevel YouPaula’s business is smack dab in the middle of a male-dominated industry building.  Each person is responsible for his own business, but the group operates out of the same space.

Paula is the only woman in the building.

And you guessed it.  The “good ol’ boy” network wasn’t sending referrals her way.  For years, this crushed her business. For years, it was her story.

But then (after coming to my Uplevel Your Business retreat), Paula chose to drop this story, to step into her power as a leader, and start creating her own outcomes by Upleveling her marketing, her positioning, and her clients’ experience.

Well, guess what?  It worked.

In a short time, she doubled the number of clients she had the prior year.  PLUS, her team got happier – and she was in control of her business for the first time in a long time.

And guess what else?

The “boys” weren’t happy about it.

One day out of the blue, they confronted her about the extra work she’d done.  They accused her of not honoring “the group.”

In situations like this, most of us react.  In an instant, we rush AWAY from our center and rush TOWARD the drama.  We want everyone to know that “Wait just a bloomin’ minute! We’re the ones who are the victims here!”

And that’s what Paula did.

“Sure, you can say we’re a ‘group,’ but none of you were referring anyone to me – so I had no choice but to do something about it.”  (In other words? She was helpless!  They forced her into taking action!)

Eventually, Paula made it through the conflict, but she felt bruised by the conversation and wanted some coaching.

Here’s what I told her:

When you Uplevel, the people in your life often don’t know how to face their own feelings or reactions, so they might try to “hook” you with drama.  They may accuse you of causing harm to them, rather than claiming their own feelings.

This can catch you off guard – and suddenly, you find that, instead of standing in your power, you want them to know that YOU are the real victim.

Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, calls this “racing to occupy the victim position in the relationship.”  He writes that almost every argument among couples is about this dynamic of trying to be the victim. (Just think the times you’ve said, “Well, YOU’RE the one who…”) :)

Even though this wasn’t a marriage, Paula raced to the victim position.  She stepped out of her power and personal responsibility.

It’s understandable, of course.  But there’s a way to stay clear in the face of conflict.

Here’s what to do:

1 – Get present.

When you are caught “off guard,” it means that your focus falters.  In any situation where someone accuses you or hooks you into a drama, the very first thing to do is call on your most powerful tool: Your attention.  Be fully in your body and call your attention to the present moment.

2 – Put off the conversation for 24 hours.

When the time comes for your response, thank the person for their observations.  Let them know that you’d like to address each one, but that you would like to schedule time later in the week.  Assure the person that you will be able to give him a higher level of attention when you meet.

3 – Remember the drama triangle.

Many people spend their entire lives moving from position to position on the drama triangle:  perpetrator, victim and rescuer.  Be aware of this and get clear on your response by making sure that you are not playing into the drama triangle.  Step out of it and find a more powerful platform to speak from!

4 – Take time to explore the accusations.

When you are quiet and centered, ask yourself if there was any truth in the accusations.  If there were highly-charged accusations, shift to language that is neutral.  See if you can find any lesson or truth in what was said.

5 – Share your intentions. Admit your mistakes.

When the time comes, start by thanking the person for his observations.  Tell him you’d like to address each point he made and ask him if he’d be willing to listen until you are complete.

Share your intentions, and admit where you messed up or could have done something better.

The end result will be a higher level of communication and resolution.

The coolest thing about NOT racing for the victim position is that you learn how to handle yourself OUTSIDE of the drama triangle. You learn that there is a more powerful way to respond than the knee-jerk methods that have been modeled for us all our lives.

In the coming weeks, Paula was able to communicate with her colleagues more clearly, and slowly the conflict was resolved. (They even began asking her for marketing advice!)  She felt an even stronger sense of her own power, and was no longer scared of unexpected conflicts. She had a way to handle them!

So, what do YOU think?

This is a topic people rarely talk about when it comes to their businesses, so please add your thoughts, experiences or questions below. I’d love to chat with you about this!

Want to make money in your business and still be totally authentic?

Download my FREE TRAINING, and learn the secrets of my very own Uplevel Fast Track Formula for making money… on your own terms and in your own way.


  1. says


    Just started my first group program and ran into some conflict. Your tips are dead on! When met with the conflict, there’s the flurry of emotions. “How could they?” But, I walk away. I breathe. I walk. I punch something. I do what it takes to get to a better feeling place. Then, I address the situation.

    Works the same in my day job. I used to think that I didn’t have the luxury of stepping away, that I had to do something RIGHT NOW. I learned that I can’t afford to NOT step away and come back with a very clear head. Sometimes though, stepping away is 5 deep breaths right where I’m physically standing.

    • says

      Nneka – Such great self-awareness on your part! And yes, that stepping away in the face of the voice that says, ‘Something must be done NOW!’ is a very big choice. Good for you!

  2. says

    Christine, that is a fabulous post. I used to be the co-trainer for women in “How to talk to men” seminars. Paulas story is a great example.
    Here is what I do when it comes to conflicts:
    1. I allow myself to feel my emotions, even when they are negative, I really breath into it.
    2. By allowing myself to feel what I feel the “victim mode” shrinks.
    3. I reflect what is true and what isn’t true for myself. I get clear.
    4. I open my heart to the fullest and communicate from the bottom of my heart.
    There is no right or wrong when we do that, no excuses, no justifications- only truth.

    That really creates wonders and people really get the possibility to do the same.

    Love, Andrea

  3. NeNe says

    Right on time…. Thanks Christine! I definitely need to reposition my thoughts from victim to being my own advocate and shepherding my time. I have the choice to enter into the drama zone or to completely not go there. Today is the day of decision and I choose to see “the good ol girl” network for what it is. Surprisingly these are women I know who are boxing me out. My issue is not with men, who have been more supportive; my negative experiences (not responding to emails, texts, calls, won’t RSVP, etc) have been with women these past two weeks. I really have to shake it because I never would have thought “they” would treat me so unkind . Thanks again for this article!

    • says

      NeNe! So happy to see you here again!

      So… try to remember this: (as my coach Dan Sullivan says) the only problem is what you THINK about the problem. In other words, in every situation like this, try to remove the “story” (being boxed out) and act from a place of clarity. Sending you light!

  4. Wendy says

    Christine, this message must have been sent for me. I just experienced an unexpected conflict at work last night, and after reading your post i realize that i did run to the victim position. I let my anger get the better of me because i felt i was being given unnecessary pressure on something that is not my job duty. Today i have a meeting with the people involved and i plan on keeping your tips in mind. Thanks.


  5. says

    Great article! I’ve experienced a lot of conflict in the past few years because of my growth. I remind myself when it’s happening that it’s not about me–their reaction is telling me a whole lot about them! Pay attention to what they say–it’s usually a projection. Then, I become curious about why they’re behaving that way. I don’t get flustered as much anymore because over time, I’ve learned to let people have their reactions, while strengthening my boundaries about the way I need to be treated.

  6. says

    I was so CRAZY busy yesterday. At the end of the day, I still felt like I couldn’t catch my breathe. I finally realized it was because I had been dealing with conflict (at home and work) but hadn’t been present and in my body all day. I was just rushing and reacting.

    Love the steps to get back on track once you get back into your body. I will be practicing these today. Thanks for being your awesome self and sharing such solid information.

    • says

      Jennifer – I can so relate! I was just feeling this morning like I could hardly breathe with so many things weighing on my mind – that I let weigh me down…Missing the bus almost had me in tears.

  7. says

    Excellent post. It is a challenge to not be sucked into the drama. There are certain trigger situations for me that bring resentment and jealousy–so I am the victim. Instead, I need to step back and see how I can learn from the situation so I am at cause over it rather than the effect of it. Great reminder.

  8. says

    My main client has a way of withholding information or making ‘unreasonable’ requests. I used to take this personally and run to the victim position everytime it happened. Then, when I went through ‘Uplevel Your Life’ and realized that it’s OK for them to ask for what they want and it’s also OK for me to ask for the information I need or to respond with what is possible for me to deliver (rather than focusing on how unfair I think it is that they want the impossible). The change is slow but it’s happening. This much I know, if I feel an incredible amount of emotion, I know I’ve been triggered and I need to remove myself, get centered and clearly state what I want or need. BTW, the Complaint Free Contract is a VERY powerful tool on this subject. If I feel like I want to find someone to tell my troubles to, I know I’ve been triggered. Complaining is NOT the answer. Getting centered and being clear about what’s important to me and what my conditions for engagement are is the answer for me! As always, thanks for sharing!!

  9. Kathleen (Kate0 Mulligan says

    ‘When the student is ready…’ So perfect Christine! These steps are equally powerful in personal relationship of course, and where I happened to need support today :-) Bless you. It’s so supportive when we really trust that breathing into all this gives us the pause and the opportunity to reconnect with our more heart-centered selves instead of dog-paddling around in our old ‘fight or flight’ limbic brain. It gives us a chance to get attuned to the intention of creating a higher good and best outcome for all. Thanks again, K P.S. That’s one very happy, happy flower!

  10. says

    Christine, I’ve been following your blog for a while but this is the first time I’m commenting. This is such a great post. I am a teacher and I work with teachers. This is exactly the kind of advice I give to teachers about handling issues with parents. Thank you for writing it out so well! I will be passing this along to the crew :)

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