HR Strange But True!
August 30, 2007

When supervisors come to HR and complain that their workers are acting like children, squabbling, yelling, and even fighting all the time, what do you do? Use the mediation skills you learned in your MBA course? Order a book on Amazon? Give them all a "time out"? Call in the Super Nanny?

Robert Fulghum told us that "Everything I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," but maybe these workers were tuning out even back in elementary school.

So, take a look at what the the folks at teAchnology created and see if you can apply it your worplace. The organization developed 14 conflict resolution lesson plans aimed from the kindergarten to grade 8 levels, but the topics for the lesson plans are reminiscent of "hot" seminar topics at an HR conference, such as:

  • Acting Out Conflict,
  • Exploring the Nature of Conflict,
  • Start Talking About Conflict, and
  • Consensus Brainstorming.

A BLR editor who recently received a master's degree in Organizational Psychology even commented that these are the same course topics offered at her Ivy League graduate school.

However, we don't think they use puppets at that school. The lesson plan for Resolving Conflict Creatively, adapted from work by the Educators for Social Responsibility, has participants using puppets to illustrate "lose-lose" and "win-win" situations on the playground, such as who can go down the slide first, asking "did the puppets get what they wanted from each solution?" and telling the children that "although win-win solutions are always not possible, try your best to find them." Ain't that the truth in the workplace!

So go to and see if you are inspired to try some conflict resolutions sessions in your own workplace. Maybe you can get even workers to sing a song from one of the lesson plans:

There is always something you can do.
Yes, it's difficult, but true.

See it from each other's eyes,
Find a way to compromise.
There's always something you can do.
You can use your smarts and not your fist;
You can give that problem a new twist.*

* © 1989 by Sarah Pirtle, Discover Center Music

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