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Navigating Workplace Conflict: How to Build Up Your Soft Skills

Chelsey Zhu  |  April 19, 2023

From being talked over to feeling burned out, here’s how you can more successfully manage workplace conflict.

Hard work is a crucial ingredient to succeeding in your career — but it’s not the only thing that matters. Being a great employee or manager also means building up your “soft skills,” which can be surprisingly hard to navigate. How do you approach your boss about getting a raise or promotion? What do you say if a coworker isn’t pulling their weight on a project? How do you properly motivate a team once you’re a leader? 

Many of us aren’t taught how to be good co-workers, and when an issue arises at work, we often just don’t know how to talk about it. The result is that even if we’re working hard, we feel unseen and unheard, and we might even quit because of miscommunication. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 57% of people who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation said that feeling disrespected at work was a reason for their decision. 80% of those workers also say they now regret quitting — which suggests that these communication problems might be following us from one workplace to another.

Leadership expert Jenn Whitmer joins us to share her best strategies for navigating tricky, tense, or downright awkward workplace conversations. Jenn works with individuals and companies to help them solve conflicts and communicate better. She talks about why workplace conflict can actually be a good thing, and how you can use it as an opportunity to understand yourself, strengthen relationships, and make your job easier in the long run. 

We also dig into the Enneagram personality framework, which Jenn uses to help her clients understand their motivations and behaviors. (The Enneagram is also everywhere in the business world these days.) Jenn tells us what the Enneagram is, why it’s different from other personality tests, and how you can use it to express yourself better at work. We go through the strengths and weaknesses of all nine Enneagram personality types, and how they sometimes manifest differently in women. 

Jenn also gets tactical and walks us through specific workplace scenarios that people tend to struggle with, including being talked over at work (a common experience for women), working with a colleague who isn’t contributing equally, or managing someone who needs to bump up their performance. And we discuss dealing with all of the above in a remote work environment, where misunderstandings can be even more common. Jenn’s advice? Get face-to-face (video calls count) for any conversations that involve brainstorming, problem-solving, or managing relationships. Have you heard about the companies that have laid off workers via email? Yeah, don’t be them. 

“One of my general rules of thumb: If three written messages didn’t solve the problem, get face-to-face,” says Jenn. “If three Slack messages didn’t solve the problem [or] three emails don’t solve the problem, get face-to-face or at least on the phone. Get in real-time.”

In Mailbag, we answer questions about how paying off a car loan affects your credit score, and whether you should prioritize tackling your debt ahead of contributing to your 401(k). In Thrive, we have a special guest — Denise Piazza, Certified Public Accountant, managing partner of the private equity real estate firm One Street Capital, and founder of the One Street Capital Investor Network, a community of women working together to learn about real estate investing and tax planning strategies. She joins us to share the top five tax secrets that the wealthy use to save money. 


This podcast is proudly supported by Edelman Financial Engines. Let our modern wealth management advice raise your financial potential. Get the full story at EdelmanFinancialEngines.com. Sponsored by Edelman Financial Engines – Modern wealth planning. All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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The HerMoney podcast is supported by      Edelman
All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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