Making a difference

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

“Mom, I missed you so much!!  From now on I will always listen to you and be nice to you!” This was the first thing my daughter told me after she came home from staying two weeks with her grandparents this summer. It filled me with gratitude and at the same time I knew she was far too optimistic.

We can be so full of good intentions after the holidays!

At the same time, we’re human and we know that reality is different.

As it comes to human relationships: irritations, misunderstandings and conflicts, they are part of the deal. We cannot avoid them, only learn how to manage them.

It is even recognized that the best relationships are those in which people have the possibility to venture their irritations, have conflicts or misunderstandings and accept that this indeed is part of the deal.

How do you handle this in work relationships, like in teams?

The best relationships seem to be those in which people accept that conflict is inevitable, also at work. Avoiding conflicts could even be harmful for teams and generate underperformance. If we intend to maintain harmony by hiding our thoughts, feelings or needs, it will make it impossible for others to recognize them and adjust their behavior. It makes it impossible to develop constructive solutions.

Once we have accepted that trouble is inevitable, the main question is: How do we manage it in a constructive way? How can we be transparent about our irritations, needs, differences and ideas and handle them to the benefit of an improved team performance?

On the internet, we can find hundreds of interesting posts or articles about the subject. Attractive titles like: “5 Aspects of healthy relationships at work.”, “What to do to manage conflict in a constructive way”, “How to improve trust in your team?”. Some articles are simple “To do”- lists, other articles are more practical and give you detailed ideas about how to put the desired behavior into practice. (I personally love the practical ideas of Claire Lew, if you have the chance, follow her!)

No doubt that most of it is good advice, and we can try to apply it. Of course!

But how successful are we in the long term?

Are we really going beyond my daughter’s good intentions? She also had some practical ideas about how to do this!

As it comes to improving our behavior or developing our management skills within organizations, practical advice is useful, as a start. But in most cases leaders highly underestimate what it takes to become an excellent conflict manager, to facilitate warm and constructive relationships within teams and let people work together in an inspiring way. On the contrary, managers are often a great source of stress for employees. (HBR, March 2017).

Individual actions can be difficult to maintain individually across the long term: we need perseverance and support from our environment. As it comes to behavioral changes, we are far too optimistic about what individuals can do. Research on this topic demonstrates that learning is more powerful when we make it a group activity!! (Review of research by T. Fenwick, 2008). We live in systems and we learn in systems.

If we really want to change things within our organizations, we must work it out together! Set our goals, make our plan, make it a group activity, let others participate and support, and at the end... celebrate our success together!

We, at Yellow, don’t believe in individual actions, we believe in guidance for the entire team, in collaborative learning. We think it’s the best and fastest way to a long-term success. If everyone is involved, at the end everyone will be committed.

If you are interested in what we can do for you, feel free to look around our website, read the testimonials of our clients, contact us and tell us your objectives. We’re here to help you!


If you really want to make a change wihtin your team, it is only after intensive attention and porfessional guidance. That’s what will give value for money and long-term effects.

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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