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It is easy to complain about the negative circumstances at our work or in our personal life. It is much more difficult to find the positives and apply the lessons as we attempt to move forward. The truth is that most of our valuable lessons are learned during difficult times, especially when we are dealing with people we consider untrustworthy or unreliable.

This article focuses on negative experiences such as when we are disciplined, when someone steals or takes credit for our ideas, or when someone does not fulfill his commitments. As each situation is reviewed, the potential lessons are outlined. This is essential because it is best to learn the lessons early and position ourselves for a positive future as possible.

Stolen Ideas

It can grate on one’s nerves knowing or feeling that one’s ideas are being used by another person to make him look better or, even worse, to make you look inferior. The question is, why would someone think he could do that without repercussions?

It may be because when you state your ideas you are tentative and do not exude confidence in the idea. Therefore, when he thinks about it and sees how the idea can work, it seems as if it is his idea. He thinks, “You are not going to do anything with the idea anyway.”

You are not responsible for another person’s low self-esteem. 


If an idea is yours and you believe in it, state it with confidence. Claim it as your own. Make sure you are not overusing ‘ahs’, looking down or slouching your shoulders when vocalizing your thoughts. Start your sentence with ‘my idea is that we’ rather than ‘we could consider.’

Conflict Resolution Guide to Positive Outcomes

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This is again, one of the negative experiences we mostly experience in the workplace. This usually happens when the workplace does not value team work, instead they often perpetuate the idea that competition is the name of the game. Each person spends time promoting his ideas and demonstrates how he is more confident or competent than others.

This workplace does not see an issue with one person putting down another person’s ideas, with making jokes at another’s expense, or using ridicule.


State your ideas with confidence. Do not react to jokes or accept any ridiculing behaviours as a reflection of your competence or their competence. You are not the person ridiculing others. Do not be embarrassed.

A person who feels the need to embarrass another in any way is not self-confident and does not have high self-esteem. Know this and let him see that you are not moved by his unprofessional behavior.

If you accept another’s negativity, it’s like drinking his/her poison and hoping they would die. 

Lack of Follow Through

It is difficult to work with someone who accepts responsibilities and does not follow through. He is the first to offer to help or complete a task and is the last to meet his commitments or deadlines.

Such a person may have low self-esteem and the fear of failure prevents him from completing agreed-upon tasks. He may be anxious on the job and his way of coping is to under-produce for survival purposes. This may be frustrating you, and at the same time, this person may feel paralyzed. He may be unable to do anything other than following the old patterns of coping.


It is essential to make sure you both understand the task at hand, have the same standards for completion in mind, and know how your performance impacts each other. It is also helpful to break the task down into manageable pieces for the person who does not normally follow through on commitments.

Celebrate small successes. Provide positive feedback where possible because this person may be constantly waiting for failure to happen. He may not expect success and may not even know his own strengths.

If a task is not based on his strengths, acknowledge what he can do and do not expect him to do things that are too far outside his comfort zone until he has experienced success.


There are persons who gain or retain power by forming an in-group and an out-group. They invite certain people to coffee or lunch and not others. They seek advice from specific colleagues and leave others out of the conversation. They let you know who has influence and who does not. They can make you feel quite uncomfortable because they deliberately leave you out of conversations and ensure you are not privy to vital information you need to function in your organization.


Remain professional and respectful at all times. Do not give these people your power. Do not react. Be proactive at all times.

They need the in-group because they do not feel secure. Do not let their insecurity affect your behaviour. Eventually, something will happen to make the members of the in-group realize their predicament. They may even leave the group or begin to form other alliances. Be patient. Professional conduct cannot be criticized in the long run.

Lying by Omission

Have you ever been in the middle of a project or a discussion and have information revealed that would have changed your outputs or your opinion? As you reflect, you see that a member of your team had information which he did not share with you. When you approach him, he makes up some lame excuse or says that he thought the information was irrelevant. You begin to recognize the trap and commit to ensure it doesn’t happen to you again.


When this happens once, it is vital for you have to have a strategy to ensure it doesn’t happen the second time. This means asking direct open-ended questions such as:

  1. During our meeting, did we miss any key information that would affect the completion of this project?
  2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this project?
  3. Do you have any information which has not be revealed so far in our discussions?
  4. What are the risks I should consider as I complete this project?

Conflict Resolution Guide to Positive Outcomes

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The Key

A lot of lessons can be learned from negative experiences like the ones we discussed in this article. But remember, the key here is to always take the high road, speak your truth, and only accept responsibility for your own behaviour.