Navigating Workplace Conflict with Karin Hurt


In this episode of Evolve: A New Era of Leadership, I’m joined by Karin Hurt, a distinguished leadership expert and the co-author of “Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict.” Karin shares her profound insights on navigating conflicts in the workplace and fostering human-centered leadership.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, a global leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and programs that make a lasting impact.

She’s an award-winning author of multiple books, including her latest work with David Dye, “Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict.” A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Together with her husband and business partner, David Dye, they run their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


We talk about:

  • 00:00 Intro

  • 03:38 What inspired Karin to get into leadership development

  • 05:45 What has changed for her regarding dealing with conflict in the workplace

  • 08:34 About her writing partner

  • 11:47 Why leaders need to buy this book right now

  • 16:28 What if we can’t get one of the four C’s

  • 21:51 Advice people would give their former self if faced with the same conflict they have faced before

  • 22:33 The feedback she is getting from early readers or people who have gone through her workshop and been exposed to these tools

  • 28:31 How this book works with my book and navigating conflict while also navigating trauma informed leadership

  • 33:33 Generational differences in perspectives on workplace conflict and how to deal with it

  • 35:58 How long it takes to move through the discomfort and recognize when that discomfort or awkwardness is ok

  • 37:36 Are there differences in how to handle smaller conflicts versus ones that have inflated

  • 42:22 How to preorder the book

  • 44:23 Rapid fire questions

🌈 Closing Thoughts:

This episode with Karin Hurt deepens our understanding of leadership in the context of conflict and change, providing a comprehensive framework for leaders to create environments that value empathy, resilience, and adaptability. Karin’s experience and insights offer invaluable lessons for anyone looking to enhance their leadership skills in increasingly complex workplace environments.

We encourage listeners to think about how the principles discussed can be applied in their own leadership situations, promoting growth and innovation within their teams.

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Carolyn: Hi, I’m Carolyn Suara, host of Evolve a New Era of Leadership. Now, today’s guest is Karen Hurt, and Karen is the co author of a book that I think is going to make a huge difference for all of you out there listening. The book is called Powerful phrases for dealing with workplace conflict. Do we have conflict at work?

Yeah. Karen and her business partner did a survey. And they specifically found. Some real interesting insights about conflict in our workplaces post pandemic and this book, we’re going to talk all about it, but it’s meant to be a very, very helpful guide for people like you and I for leaders on how do we harness the tension out of these conflicts that are frankly inevitable.

She hasn’t said this to me yet, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to talk about the fact that conflict isn’t a bad thing. There’s a whole opportunity that lies underneath that conflict and using her and David’s work. How can we mind that conflict to make it really helpful for all the goals and objectives that we want to achieve at work.

Now, before we dig into this conversation with Karen, let me just tell you a little bit about her. Her goal is to help human centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, to drive innovation and achieve breakthrough results. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, a global leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick.

She’s written a series of Other books. She is a former Verizon wireless executive, and she was named to Inc magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. I think this is going to be a fabulous conversation. Let’s dig in.


Carolyn: Hello, Evolve listeners! Well, another exciting guest we have with us this week, Karen Hurt, author of this amazing book we’re going to talk about, or co author, shall I say. Karen, welcome to Evolve!

Karin: Oh, thanks so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to this conversation.

Carolyn: and I have to say, I was telling you before we pressed the record button we know a few of the same people in the same world, so it was kind of fun seeing you with Glein, who wrote the book. The forward to my book. So good people run with good people. So I’m really looking forward to this conversation.

Karin: Yeah, me too.

Carolyn: so Karen, I know that you are the founder and CEO of let’s grow leaders. And you’ve been in this leadership development space. I’m guessing for a lot of time you’ve got, you’ve got some experience.

Karin: It depends what, when you start counting, right? But so, you know, I was a leader for a very long time. I was at Verizon for two decades. Yeah. And then I founded Let’s Grow Leaders 11 years ago. So when you start to add up all those years and Verizon wasn’t my first job. So yeah, a 

Carolyn: Yeah. And so a Canadian, is Verizon the, can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?

Or is.

that a different one? Okay. So branding was spot on there. Cause I was about to say, can you hear me now? 

So what inspired you, Karen, to get into leadership development?

Karin: You know, it’s, I have always really been very, very interested in leadership development and organizational communication. So my undergraduate degree is in that. My master’s degree is in that. I have most of a PhD in that. But then my first roles at Verizon were all in that space. So leadership development, organizational development self directed work teams was my big thing.

And then I went and led a variety of large Ops team. So I led a 2200 person sales team, a 10, 000 person customer service organization. And that’s where it really became fun because you, you have this stuff and you’re teaching it, but then you see how it really plays out in the really gnarly scenarios, right?

It looks great when things are easy, but when it’s hard, it gets really hard. And so that’s where I became very interested in. How do we make this super practical and super easy to follow? And, you know, yeah, grounded in theory, but how, you know, people are always saying like, just give me the words. How do I do this?

You know, how do I approach this difficult conversation? How do, what do I do in this scenario? And so that’s really what I started to do in my final job. At Verizon, because I was working with all these outsourced call centers, so they were all the call centers that weren’t Verizon employees, but they were taking Verizon’s calls.

So you can imagine, right? These are low margin companies, you know, BPO’s. And they don’t have a lot of time to do training or leadership development. So I started a blog in that circumstance and I was writing, right. Making this really practical and giving it, sending it out to them. And the blog kind of took off, got an international following.

Hey, when are you going to be our keynote speaker? Can you when are you writing a book? I was like, Oh, I have this big job. Right. 

Carolyn: I don’t have time for these other things. 

Karin: that’s how it all came together because at some point I said, well, why not? You know, do this. Yeah.

Carolyn: So now, so you’re blending in your comms experience, your experience leading. And I’m, I’m just, I’m going to cut to the 

chase. The biggest challenge for leaders is dealing with conflict or difference of opinion. Right. And I’m going to guess over the time that you’ve had your company that. The level of conflict has changed

 In many ways.

So maybe could you share a little bit about what has changed?

Karin: Yeah. So what have we found? So we actually did a lot of research on this. So we did what we call the world workplace conflict and collaboration study and we researched 46 countries, 5, 000 participants. And we asked that question. Now, not only is conflict getting worse. But what is actually happening with conflict?

And it’s interesting, 70 percent said conflict is either the same or worse or significantly worse now than it was before the pandemic. But what was really fascinating was the genre, we’ll call them conflict cocktails, of the, what is combining to create this new breed of conflict? Yeah, so 1 of the things we’re seeing with remote work, so you could say, well, maybe you’d have less conflict because people are interacting as much with people.

But there’s this conflict cocktail that’s happening with remote work where people are coming out of the pandemic and there are many are feeling isolated. There are still so many people facing mental health challenges that they’ve never fully recovered from through that. So you have that tension. Now, you also have, okay, work from anywhere or hybrid teams.

So people are having less personal connected interaction in many cases. And then we’ve seen so many. Organizations go to more global teams because, well, they’re going to work from anywhere. Why don’t we put the work where it makes sense and for a variety of different reasons. And now they’re scattered across all these time zones and they don’t even have the time to interact.

And that conflict cocktail also with unclear expectations, a whole new set of unclear expectations, like should we have our cameras on or off in our meetings? Right and that never was a conflict before, but now it’s a big, it’s a big deal and it’s not hard to fix, but you got to talk about it. 

Carolyn: You do. You 

Karin: or what we know, how are we going?

What medium are we going to use for our communication? When is a text message appropriate? When do we need to hop on a plane and have a conversation? And a lot of this is being left to people to find their way through and individual teams to find their way through. And really what they need is some structure to how do you have these conversations to create better clarity.

Carolyn: Wow. It’s so, it’s cocktails, the conflict cocktail that’s happening. Cocktails that we don’t necessarily want to drink, but we have to drink.

Karin: exactly. Yes. I said the cocktail that no one ordered and everyone is sipping.

Carolyn: And there’s a non, yeah, there aren’t different versions of it that can lessen the impact of it. 

So now you wrote this book with David Dye. And do you, do you both work together or like, was he a writing partner and how, no, it gets released too shortly or has it already been released?

Karin: The powerful phrases for dealing with workplace conflict releases on May 14th, but it’s available for preorder now. But would you like the love story piece of this?

Carolyn: Oh, yeah.

Karin: So, David and I met writing our first book, which was called winning. Well, and we had known each other online, not the swipe right, swipe left online, but.

You know, through, through blogging, and we were showing up in a lot of the same human centered leadership spaces. So we were certainly aware of each other. Well, we show up at this book publishing lab, which was sponsored by the National Speakers Association. You know, how do you find a publisher? You know, all that jazz.

And so we both show up and I’m like, Hey, I know you, I know you. We have this conversation and we realized we were practically writing the same book. So we looked at each other and said, Oh, we should collaborate. He’s living in Colorado. I’m living in Maryland. We write the entire book, never being in the same room, but we had like a chat message up on our computer seven days a week, right?

We’re just like the whole time talking, talking, talking. And a lot of stuff happens during that time. My mother dies, like a lot of real life happens and we just become best friends.

Carolyn: Hmm.

Karin: So one day he calls me on a Saturday and he goes, you’re going to be so proud of me. This woman just asked me out and I said, yes.

And I’m like, Ooh, I had this like massive jealousy feeling. And I realized I did not want him to go on that date.

Carolyn: did you use a powerful phrase for conflict?

Karin: You know, I, so basically I said, you know, what are you really looking for in a woman? So I went through this whole list and he’s like, well, for the right person, what would that matter? You know what I’m saying? Things like, well, what if she has a little boy, which I had a little boy at home, like all this stuff.

And so it’s going over his head. He’s like not, and then finally he’s like, oh, and then he goes, well, let me think about that. That’s

Carolyn: no. Oh, wow. So how long did you have to sit with

Karin: Well, So that was a Saturday. And then he’s like, I will let you know on Sunday. So the, what the reason was we knew each other. I mean, he knew so much about me and he’s like, we, this is not going to be casual dating. I had to decide like, would I marry you if we, you know, I mean, I’m not committing to that yet, 

Carolyn: Right. But he needed to know if he would go deep.

Karin: Maybe we go deep because otherwise we had so much that we could screw up this whole book and ever in the business relationship So anyway, long story short. We merged our businesses together. We got married and Since then we’ve written create sculptures and now this book. So

Carolyn: Oh, so it’s, it’s a, not only a beautiful business partnership, but a life partnership


Very nice. All right. Well, that was like a little side, but it’s always fun to know behind the scenes what’s going on. I noticed your name is first ahead of his.

Karin: Well, you know you get first you get hurt then you die, right

Carolyn: That’s funny. That’s funny. 

so Karen, can you share a little bit about Why leaders need to buy this book right now? What’s in there and why do they need it?

Karin: Now, it’s so often people hear the word conflict and they say, I don’t want that. And, you know, we think of conflict as negative, but all the creativity, the innovation, there’s so much good on the other side of conflict. And so, Being able to not run away from the conflict, which in our research, most 

Carolyn: Most people do Right. 

Karin: to be able to have the conversation that you need to have.

So starting with the car. And I, I know this is in your work just by sharing with me, you know, the title of your book, what’s the conversation you need to have with yourself. You know, right? And why does this come? Why does what you have to say matter? What’s at stake if you don’t engage in this, in this conversation?

So we really start there and then help people think of 4 dimensions of really productive conflict, which is. Connection are we connected as human beings, right? And then that’s in 2 levels. Are we connected as human beings before we even are having a conversation? Because if you don’t have a connection, people will not have the trust.

They’re not do this. Well, and then connection in the conversation, you know, I really care about you, Carolyn. And I am confident we can find a solution. We can all work with here. 

Carolyn: That’s a hard place for people to get to right now though, don’t you find? Like, it’s, it’s more I don’t have time to worry about your stuff. What’s the fastest way out of here?

Karin: Yeah, and that seems like it’s a shortcut and it also, you know, it doesn’t take that long. We we do a exercise in one of our live online programs where we’ve got, you know, people connected from all over the world in a cohort, going through stuff together. And we have a module called putting people before projects to start the conversation of people before projects.

We don’t, we, we. Don’t even tell them what we’re going to talk about that time, right? We just say, okay, just tell me something significant, you know, that you’re really proud of in the last 6 months, right? or something that you have learned

5 minutes, right? And then everybody, you know, so we put in breakout, everybody comes back and there, you could just feel the energy is completely different.

And the whole, and the whole point is that took 5 minutes. Right, so you can start your, your meetings in little ways that create the connection and then everything goes faster for the rest of your meeting because you have built that.

Carolyn: It’s kind of like putting a, plug into the wall and getting energy.

Karin: Yes.

Carolyn: Yeah. It doesn’t have to take a long time.

Karin: It doesn’t so, so connection is 1 and then clarity. Do we have a shared understanding of success? And that is 1 of the things that happens in conflict is we were arguing, right? We have this tension. Yes. But we’re actually not even necessarily arguing for the same thing. So, you know what is a successful outcome look like?

But my favorite powerful phrase for this is what would a successful outcome do for you? 

So now you’re getting one level deeper into the motivations. Maybe somebody really cares about something because some political thing that’s happening within their organization. Somebody else just wants to look good at this one meeting, right?

Like, what is it that really matters here? Somebody really cares about this customer or has this, this personal dynamic going on and the reason they can’t work late is because of this one thing, but it’s only this Tuesday, right? Like, if you can get that out, like, really that again, these are things that speed up, so it’s connection, clarity, then curiosity.

And this is, are we genuinely interested in one another’s opinions and. alternative perspectives, right? So, like, alternative ways of thinking about this, you know, and so that it’s hard to be furious and curious at the same time. So. Yeah, so if you can just really be curious, what does this look like from your perspective?

How do you see this happening? You know, these kinds of powerful phrases. And then finally, commitment. And this is where we see many conflicts go sideways, where we have a conversation, we agree we’re going to do something, but we don’t schedule a time to see how it’s going.

Carolyn: Right. It’s just like, we got all, we’re good next.

And like onto the 

Karin: but then it’s not good.

And now I got to muster the courage all over again to have that conversation. But if I’ve already put it on our calendar, I know we’re going to talk about it again in 2 weeks and, you know, we’re going to talk about it in 2 weeks. A, we’re both focused on doing what we said we were going to do. But B, neither 1 of us has to get the courage to start a conversation again, because it’s already on the calendar.

Carolyn: Right.

Right. So,


I’m noticing alliteration there, four C’s is there anything else about those four C’s? Like what if we can’t get one of those elements? Like what if the curiosity is just, somebody’s not in a place of curiosity.

Karin: Yeah, I think, you know, the thing is that that’s when you said, why should somebody buy this book? It, we have 12 GOAT, greatest of all time, powerful phrases, three for each of these, right? But then there’s all these scenarios. So what if my hybrid team is in conflict? What if my boss is a screamer and dropper of F bombs?

What if a coworker stole my idea? What if I’m feeling invisible at work? And so then you can look at the scenario. And say, what are, what, what is going to be most impactful here? So you don’t have to make up your own C stuff. You go, okay, what’s my problem? Go to the table of contents. You go to the thing and then you say, all right, here’s some approaches.

Now you, we can’t possibly script every single thing that you’re going to say in that conflict, but you, it gives you a starting point with some neutral phrases that will begin the conversation and give you the confidence to have this, the conversation better.

Carolyn: You just threw another C in there.


Carolyn: So it sounds like it’s so practical just like look up where, like sort of, where are you finding the most angst with dealing with conflict? And boom, you’ve got a little bit of a

guideline or a path to follow.

Karin: Yeah, that’s really the intention. So, you know, so many of our clients would just, you know, tell us those, you know, either stay after a, a workshop or something and they’ll say, okay, I got this situation, all right, I got my pen. Karen, David, just give me the words, right. And it’s because they, you know, they just don’t know where to start.

And so I think that’s why it’s helpful because I think, and they’re like, oh yeah, those words aren’t hard. 

Carolyn: Right? 

Karin: Right? But it’s because what we’re doing is giving you words that make you look curious.

Carolyn: Yep.

Karin: Or, or foster connection

 the other day. I had this guy in his fifties. I, one of the things that I do for one of our clients is I, I go on site once a quarter and I have office hours and anybody can come in and schedule time and just like a psychiatrist, but for work.

And he comes, I’ve known this guy for a long time, but I also knew the other person on the other side of this conflict and he comes like racing. I’m sitting there. Nobody’s in my office. He just races and he slams the door shut. And he says, Karen, I just got an email from David and there’s this picture of this book.

And is that, do you have that book in your purse? And I started laughing cause it’s not even out yet. And I said, no, but what he’s like, cause I’m in a conflict. I said, okay, tell me what’s going on. It is. I’ve been thinking about this problem for four months and I haven’t slept and my wife’s sick of hearing about it at dinner and did it.

And he’s just going on and on and on about how, and I said, so what have you done? The only conversation he’s had for four months is with himself and his wife. Yeah. She’s in the same freaking building. So I said, here’s what you’re going to do. And I gave him, I said, here’s what I know for sure you both want exactly the same thing.

I know it because here’s what I think you want. And he’s like 100%. And I said, I talked with her. That’s a hundred percent what she wants to. I said, so you already can start with clarity. Hey, what do you, what does successful outcome look like for you? Right. I said, I guarantee you, she’s going to spit out exactly what will come out of your mouth.

And then I said, now you’re going to show up and you’re going to with curiosity about how you can be helpful. And then you’re going to ask her for what you need. He came back two hours later, the conversation didn’t take two hours, but that’s when he was able to get back in again. He goes, Oh my gosh, I should have had that conversation four months 

Carolyn: Ah. 

Karin: And that’s the thing. I’m sure that he is not the only one, right? And all that, I mean, what does that do to your mental health to struggle with something for that long? And what does it do to results? 

Carolyn: So, did he say why he waited so long? I mean, I think it’s, it’s a great example of what many of us do. We don’t surface this for the fear of tension and all those other things that don’t do us well. But what was stopping him?

Karin: he didn’t really think she had his best interest at heart. But he didn’t know. And, you know, they both had very strong personalities. Thanks. And she was fighting for what she wanted tactically, and he was fighting for what he wanted tactically, and they both had different roles, which were intention,

Carolyn: Yep.

Karin: but the end of the day, they both absolutely needed this, this new thing to be very successful.

And they were both there. Both of their careers were on the line. If it wasn’t, they were both under a huge amount of pressure. And I’m like, if you guys work together. You’re gonna be successful. And, and, and I think that, but he just didn’t believe that she would be even open to a conversation because he didn’t know her.

’cause they weren’t connected.

Carolyn: so it looks like, yeah, those first two C’s are, you just have to give it a shot. It’s like jumping into the pool

and knowing that you can float.

Karin: Yeah. You know, and in, in our research, 

we asked people to think of a significant conflict that they had had in the past, and then what advice would they give them their former self if they were faced with that conflict again? Okay. The number one answer, can you, I wonder if you can guess.

Carolyn: The advice they’d give themselves is you’re making a bigger deal of this than you need to.

Karin: It’s very, very, very close. Stay calm. Like just chill the heck down, right? Like just calm down because when you are agitated, it is really hard to do anything well. And so that’s the first one. And then number two, 21 percent said, I wish I’d talked about it sooner. 

Carolyn: So what kind of feedback are you getting from the early people who’ve seen the book or I guess you, I’m guessing you have this content embedded into your workshops as well.

So can you throw a little, throw a few bones to the listeners to really demonstrate how powerful it

Karin: The, you know, I would tell you that the thing, the feedback that we’re seeing, hearing is that the advice is so practical and easy to follow. And so, you know, and, and it’s not biased. So for example, we have a chapter of what if your boss is a micromanager? Okay. Well, we start with first, let’s break this down because they may be a micromanager.

Or you may need micromanaging,

Carolyn: Exactly.

Karin: And so it’s, we’re very real and it, and we use very real language. It feels like, you know, you’re talking to your, it’s how I would coach you or, or someone who came to me or, and, you know, or, you know, a lot of times I think about, we have grown children, you know, who are in jobs and, you know, I would be very real with them, like this may be your problem, this may be somebody else’s problem, the same thing about I’m feeling invisible.

Okay, that’s that’s horrible. Right? And so we, you know, we start with, I am so sorry that you that you’re feeling this way. Now, let’s really think about this in what circumstances. Are you feeling invisible? Right? Like, break the questions to ask yourself 1st. Right, so it’s great. It kind of grounds you in the situation and makes you be curious and opens your perspective.

And then we say, okay, depending on what. Your answers are, here’s where we would 

Carolyn: Ah, so it starts with you first,

Karin: yeah.

Carolyn: beautiful, which is, is so, ah, just a wonderful invitation. Are there worksheets in your book?

Karin: So, yeah, so there’s so every chapter starts with so something, you know, to capture attention. We tell stories then there’s expert insights in most of the chapters. So we’ve talked with other conflict experts. So, I don’t know if, you know, Leanne 

Carolyn: I was going to say, we’re going to do a little Canadian shout out to Leanne Davey. Yep. She was in the first chapter, right? Or second chapter?

Karin: She’s in 1 of the early ones talking about bullies, you know, what do you deal with a bully? And so basically, what we did was we really did research to say, who are the other experts in this field? And let’s get their words in here too. And so we have their, their insights and just 1 per, you know, 1 per topic.

And then from there, we have ways to think about things and, and the, and the phrases to ask. In addition to all that, and then we have our inspire method for accountability conversation. So, in some cases, it’s very practical tools. Mostly it’s the phrases, but then. We have built an entire companion guide that is free.

So it is for, designed for teams to be able to read this together. And there’s exercises discussion questions, role plays, templates, and you can just go to our website and download all of that. Because I, you know, this is very helpful for you as one, one human being, but it’s even more helpful if your whole team is reading it and agrees on how you’re going to handle these situations before they happen.

Carolyn: I’m guessing that it doesn’t just help at work.

Karin: Yes, 

Carolyn: What’s it, what’s it like in your household

with Karen and David?

Karin: right. Well, it is funny because we definitely do use the tools, but I’ll be honest with you, like when we our publisher came to us and asked us to write this book, because he said, they said, they just, they have this meeting and what is really, what are people needing right now? And their market research said people need help with this conflict post pandemic.

And a lot of the books that have been written were written, A while ago, the ones that are focused on this communication were written quite a while ago and they said, make it current, right? Talk about remote teams, talk about, you know, post pandemic health, all that stuff, and then our first question, we looked at each other and like, all right, are we good enough at managing our own conflict to say this with credibility?

And I mean, David was the one who actually stopped us, you know, and he’s like, let’s really talk about that. 

Carolyn: Nice. 

Karin: you know, the answer is. I think we’re very careful, like we, we really do do it very deliberately, not perfectly. You know, as any husband and wife team, we’re going to have, have challenges and, you know, we work together all day long.

And if you’re having a conflict, it doesn’t turn off just because it’s time to go to bed. Right, so we, we have had to be very careful about how we approach conflict and because we’re very different. Our values are completely aligned. But. Though our approach and the way we see the world is radically different and I am a very big picture thinker.

3 steps ahead of everything. I, he says, I have 80 ideas before he has had his tea in the morning. And he is. It’s very operations focused, which is wonderful combination, right? He knows he’s deliberate. He’s careful. He’s attention to detail. It’s a really great combination, but it also, that kind of stuff, well, you’re slowing me down.

Well, you need to be slowed down. Right? Like, yeah. Yeah.

Carolyn: Wow. Well, and it, you know, that’s what makes great teams too, is when you have, we’ll say opposites, but when you have people with different perspectives,

I know that was one thing for me earlier in my career, well, I mean, I’ll get to the later part of my career, but it just feels easier when you’re with people who are like you.

And that’s a trap, right? It’s, it’s, it’s a pitfall. You know, and my career started back when there were nines and ones . It was like 1999, but still we need conflict. We need this difference of opinion. And so for me, a lot of my journey recently has been around understanding why I had so much difficulty tolerating it, even physiologically.

Karin: Hmm.

Carolyn: And I mean, that’s, that’s another topic, 

but I think that’s just another reason why your book can be so helpful for people. Because it, you know, for so many years, I just thought, Oh God, what’s wrong with me? Like another course, another course. And it wasn’t just that. So I think that it comes back to, you know, my, my topic of my book,

which is, there’s just a lot of adversity in my past that had been buried in my body. So I turned that into not good enough when in fact it was physiologically, I didn’t know how to tolerate, but I also needed some tangible tools so that I could teach my body. Hey, it’s okay. When people raise their voice, it’s okay. When we get passionate about these things, instead of just being like, okay, I’ll figure this out after, or I’m not going to say anything.

Karin: Yeah.

Carolyn: Our companies need us all to contribute and to learn how to hold space for each other without running in the other direction. And so I just, I love the four Cs. They’re so inviting. They’re so open and they’re so inclusive.

Karin: Yeah, it sounds like you are doing really, really important work because, you know, I mean that helping people go deep into that and to understand what is triggering is maybe not the right word, but what is causing them to choose a certain reaction or not choose. It’s just happening. They’re having a 


Yeah. And to, to, to get a hold of that and have different options of what 

Carolyn: Exactly. Exactly. And not to blame yourself.

Cause that’s what I did. It just turned into, I’m not good enough. And, but I didn’t talk about it, but I, like, I didn’t know. So, yeah, I like to come at these things through centers of intelligence, head, heart, and body. And so, you know, what, what I see your work doing here, yours and David is giving real tools to help us use our head and our heart together. So that can just invite A more relaxed nervous system. It creates the conditions

for openness. 

Karin: Yeah. And even think about what your body is doing. We have a chapter on your body language because that is also, and we have an expert insight from a woman named Hillary Blair who really, she talks about like, okay, this is, you know, this is what is physically happening in your body. You, you’re having a reaction.

Your palms are sweating. You’re right. All that’s happening. Well. How do you say, okay, that’s happening. I feel uncomfortable.

Carolyn: Right.

Karin: But uncomfortable is not the same thing as lacking confidence. You may still feel confident, right? So how do you like reconcile that? And then how do you, you know, I, for me, it’s my face.

Like when I’m really mad at someone, it’s, I, I can, the words can come out just great because I’m really good trained in words.

Carolyn: Yep.

Karin: But David will be like, yeah, nobody’s going to believe that. Fix that on your 

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, and, and I think it’s so important that the signals that we get and what you said there, oh, 

I think this is what we just need to continue to teach ourselves and the generations after us is discomfort is not bad all the time. Obviously, there are situations where you need to get at a dodge, but yeah, you just need to get out and flee. But I feel like too often we associate that discomfort with a, just an immediate sense of danger. And, how can we look for the sense of safety that goes with the discomfort?

Karin: Yeah. Yeah, you know, we also, we have a chapter on when to quit a conflict because to your, to your point, if you, and we have a list of things to consider, you know, are you being asked to completely violate your values? is your mental health really bad because this is happening? Now, in that case, that example I gave you earlier, it was impacting him, and he might have answered yes to that, but the next question is, have you tried?

You know, and if you haven’t tried, then, you know, what do you have to lose? If you know, you can, you can try and then you can still leave. what we’re finding is that more people, we say you had it, what’s on the other side of that, the number one word is relief. 

Carolyn: Hmm. 

Karin: I feel calm.

Carolyn: Yep.

Karin: I feel, I feel competent. 


Like these are the positive words that are encouraging that what can happen on the other side of handling these, these conflicts. Well, one of the experts in our book is a guy named Verge Palumbo, and he’s an executive now but he was a in the Marines for a 

Carolyn: Oh, wow. 

Karin: And he has seen some crazy stuff, really crazy stuff. And he said, you know, Karen, I just remember that nobody is shooting at me. You know, and he’s like, it feels like it, but you know, and he’ll talk about all the politics that are happening and, and I’ve worked with him through, I coached him for a long time.

And you know, I’ve worked through some scenarios with him and he’s like, you know, but if I can just start there, you know, what’s the worst thing that can happen 

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. 

Are there different generational perspectives on workplace conflict and how we deal with it? Did you find anything

Karin: You know, it was interesting that in the data, we did not see that a big significant difference in how much people were experiencing conflict. That was relative. It wasn’t a statistically significant difference. But what and we didn’t really see a significant difference across states. Countries, which was, I mean, there was some variation, but nothing that you would put on a, you know, our publicist, what’s the headline about, you know, it’s way worse.

I’m like, it’s just not way worse in the United States. It’s just about the same everywhere you go, which is interesting. And also through the generations, we didn’t see that much of a difference, 

now, I do feel that just in my anecdotal experience in working with some of the younger, really young young folks just entering the workforce, they have had less voice to voice Conversation around some of this, they’ve done so much online. They’ve done so much through text and they’re they want to stay in that medium.

Well, I’m just going to text. I’m just going to email and tell them that I’m really upset about this. And 1 of the things that we talk about is, as the so, Marshall McLuhan way back in the day. So the medium is the 

Carolyn: is the message. yep. 

Karin: It still is, right? And, you know, so we, we show, you know, this continuum of the greater the bandwidth.

So yeah, these low low intensity things are fine via text, but as you, but do not try to break up with your girlfriend over text. 

Carolyn: Yep. 

Karin: do right because they’re scared and all that. And it’s the same thing with workplace conflict. And so 1 of the things we really encourage people to think about is what when you choose the medium you’re using.

And it sends the message, and you see that all over these tick tock videos that are in the news, right? My, my boss fired me over zoom, right? 

You know, or chat or group this 

Carolyn: Yeah. or a group. Yeah. The 40 of us were brought in.


So, so that’s the biggest difference is this younger generation. And when I think of my kids, they’re like Gen Z, they’re 19 and 20. And their automatic go to is, well, just text. Why do I have to go in?

I’m like, cause you’re going to learn to do this.

Like we haven’t built a mother son relationship on a test text message.

Karin: Right.


Carolyn: and so How is that going?

 Like, how long does it take them to sort of move through that discomfort and recognize, Oh, that awkwardness is okay. Like I can get through

Karin: Yeah, you know, you build confidence in anything by having success. And so, you know, that’s what we teach is how do you just try something that is feel safe enough for you first? And Oh, how did that feel? Well, that felt really good. That wasn’t that hard. Great. It’s not gonna be that hard to ask this next question either, right?

And also giving people some ways to think about conflicts and possible conflicts and setting clarity. Yeah. Before they happen, so in our guide, you know, how are we gonna do conflict as a team? And we even have some like roleplay stuff and you know, everybody loves roleplay I know everybody does not love roleplay but roleplays help right 

Carolyn: They do. 

Karin: can talk about it in a benign way because it’s just these, this thing, and it’s not real, but of course it’s real because all those role plays came out of somewhere, right?

And they’re out of real research based things that most teams are dealing with. And so, you know, I would say that’s where you’d start is try, pick something, try some of this stuff on not the big 10 years, but you know, to get your teenager to take out the recycling. 

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. The smaller, you don’t want to bite off the big tiger. You just, you know, the little ants or the little small things. You said something there too, that made me think of as leaders. How do we, how can we get ahead of conflict before it gets too big? So you gave that example of that individual and it sounded like, you know, something had been building for months 

Are there, are there differences in the phrases that you’re suggesting between like, when things have ballooned up to a certain size and ones to sort of get ahead of conflict before it gets

Karin: Yeah, yeah, so the, I would say, I would start with the 12 goats, the greatest of all times. Right. And so, because, you know, yeah, we have chapters, how you deescalate an emotional conversation and all and powerful phrases for all that. But the goats are just, you can’t go 

Carolyn: go wrong, 

Karin: right? If 

you say with a calm voice.

And your, your face looks like you mean it, like, if you really don’t, if you go into it and don’t believe that, that anything’s possible and people are going to see that disingenuine, but so some examples, connection, somebody comes to you and they’re upset about something. They’re concerned about something.

It is our natural tendency to say things like, oh, well. I don’t, you don’t be so upset or it’s not that big of a deal or I see this differently. Instead of you stop all that from coming out and say, Oh, can you tell me more about that?

Carolyn: Right.

Karin: Right? That’s all. Tell me more now. Oh, now I’m showing you that I am really genuinely interested in what you have to say.

I’m not going to respond to anything you’ve said yet. I’m going to say, tell me more. Another is what we call a reflect to connect. And this is not telling someone how they’re feeling, but it is saying. Oh, wow. It seems like you’re really upset about this, or I, I can, I can, I can sense that this is an emotional issue for you, or, you know, something where you’re just saying, because this is when, when they’re coming to you and it’s obvious that something is wrong.

Right. And so that’s another connection one. And then my, one of my favorites is. Really telling them that you care about them actually say that like, Carolyn, I really care about your career and I want you to be successful. Right. And I, and if you genuinely mean that, would you be open to an observation that I had?

You know, and if you buy that, you’re going to every time I always say this, whether it’s in front of a thousand person keynote or 12 person training on say, if you knew somebody really cared about you and your success genuinely wanted what was best for you and they had something that was going to be hard to hear.

Would you want them to tell them?

Carolyn: Yeah.

Karin: 100 percent all over the world. The answer is yes. 

Carolyn: Right. 

Karin: Yep. So, so, so do they, right? So if you come that way, so that’s, I would say that’s the connection ones. And then, you know, the, some of the clarity ones are really about getting that shared understanding that success.

I, I talked about the one, you know, what would a successful outcome do for you? But you know, another one is where you just do what we call a check for understanding. Okay. So what I hear you saying is this. Do I have that right? Yeah.

Carolyn: Right.

Karin: You know, like this, this stuff is not rocket science, 

Carolyn: that’s that’s the hole that reminds me of the ladder. What’s that called? Ladder of inference.

I don’t remember who created

Karin: I don’t either, but I know what you’re talking 

Carolyn: I remember doing that with the boys when

they were younger. I was like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. You’re at the top of the ladder, boy. Like let’s get back down here where like we need to iron out a few of these rungs first.

Karin: Yeah. Yeah. And then, you know, curiosity. I’m really curious what this looks like from your perspective.

Carolyn: Right.

Karin: Yeah. And like, you don’t, you can use this in any, it doesn’t even need to be a conflict. You just are trying to really show up curious. What can I do to be most supportive of you right now? Somebody comes in, they’re all upset.

They’re feeling overworked and you just look at them and say, what can I do to be supportive of you Right. 

now? Right. And then the commitment ones are all about moving the conversation forward.

Carolyn: stage. 

Karin: you’re either recapping. Okay. So what I hear is that you’re going to do this and I’m going to do that. Do I have that right?

You know, or, okay, let’s talk about this next Tuesday at three o’clock and see how our solution is working. You know, all of those are really foundational that work, whether you’re already in a conflict, you’re just building a relationship, you’re fostering collaboration. Right,

Carolyn: meaningful relationships, like to get stuff done. Powerful phrases to get shit done at work. If you’re looking for a new title for your book, there it is.

Karin: you know, it’s funny because we have the flip side of this. So we also have something called our synergy stack system, which is it starts with it’s a card deck of cards that all go with the C’s. So it, we have clarity habits, curiosity habits yeah. And you know, yeah. What, which of the habits that we’re going to agree to as a team to be productive and, you know, high functioning and have less stress.

So, you know, conflict and collaboration are 2 sides of the same thing, the same dimensions, the same kinds of words, 

Carolyn: Yep. Yeah. 

Oh beautiful Karen, where can people get this amazing book after I heard you say it’s available on pre order

Karin: Yes, it is available for pre order now pretty much anywhere that you can think about buying a book and it will be available May 14th. And if you go to our website, you can either go to conflictphrases. com or you can just go to Let’s Grow Leaders and you’ll find it.

If you go to Powerful Phrases, we have all kinds of free stuff that goes with it. The collaboration guide I talked about, you can get Sample chapters there just lots of tools and templates that you can also use.

Carolyn: Wow, and then when are you going on the world tour?

Karin: Well, we just got back from Southeast Asia, so, so we kind of already started. But yeah, we are, we are we just booked a nice courageous leadership experiencing in Denmark and we’re going to be going to Vietnam.

So yeah, we, we really do find that this is not just a, you know, North America thing. Yeah. Oh, we’re going to Canada too

Carolyn: When are you coming to Canada?

Karin: next week. I think. Yeah.

Carolyn: All right. Well, you’re going to have to give me some of the details around that. I might have to show up wherever you are. Not in a weird stalkery way, but you know,

Karin: Yeah, I’ll send it.

Carolyn: cool. Well, is it, is it in Toronto, like the Ontario

area? Okay, cool. All right.

 Well, Karen, we know where to find the book. You talked a little bit about Let’s Grow social media.

I’m guessing you’re pretty active there.

Karin: Yeah. So the best thing is LinkedIn. I really put most of my efforts on LinkedIn as you see, cause you noticed me, 

Carolyn: I notice. Yep.

Karin: Yeah. Yep. So I’m Karen with an I, Karen. hurt and David is di D Y E, 

Carolyn: I got your names mixed up last week when I was filling something out. So it was Karen Dye and David Hurt.

So now I, now I know how to keep it in order. You got to hurt before you die. So I like to ask my guests before we sign off three questions from my Evolve framework. Are you game



All right. Alright, 

so the first question has to do with self-awareness, and I’m just curious if there’s an event, a situation, an anecdote, something that you’d like to share with us that really deepened your knowledge and understanding of who you really are. Mm,

Karin: Yeah, I, I talk about this one in my keynotes. There was a moment I had been, I’d gone through a divorce and I was navigating new life in a new role, a new home, a single mom. I just had just been promoted to this really big job in human resources at Verizon. And, and I didn’t tell anybody because I was so worried about what people might think or say, and I would lose the.

Carolyn: music

Karin: So I didn’t tell anybody what was going on. I thought they were like, Oh, is she really gonna be able to handle all this stress? You know, can she manage the travel? So I just didn’t. Well, the very first assignment in the new role was to build a diversity strategy. So I started asking everybody on this diversity council that I brought together to be really honest and share their stories or insights, all the things.

So, you know, one said, Oh, I was at a management offsite the other day. And one of our senior year students said. Leaders handed me his keys because he thought I was a valet. And Sharika said, as a black woman, I speak up. Nobody listens to me. Susan said, I’m a single mom at a 24 by 7 call center. And I can’t afford reliable daycare because my schedule keeps changing.

And I can’t, you know, so take all that, put it, figure out what our strategy is going to be. I am so excited. I’m thinking I am doing a great job leading this team. And Sharika walks into my office and says, Karen. You are a fraud.

Carolyn: Oh, called you right

Karin: She called me right out and she said, there’s pictures all over your desk. You little boy and no man, you’re a single mom.

You asked all of us to do all this it doesn’t occur to you that your experiences are relevant here to, to executives. Like you were afraid to be who are at work. And if you’re afraid, we’re afraid. And she was 100 percent right.

Carolyn: Right?

Karin: know, and the strategy was incomplete. I knew it. I was putting my own self protection over the good.

I was asking my team to do things I was unwilling to do. And from that moment, that’s when I understood the power of authenticity. Like you, you know, people will see through and, and, you know, and when I tell that story, sometimes the single moms will come up to me afterwards and say, do I really have to tell, you know, I’m like, you get choices of what you say, but in this case.

I was asking everybody to do something I was completely unwilling to do that changed that just not. And by the way, we changed the strategy involved started involving people going out to executives going out to all of our centers and being more open and sharing what was hard and listening to the struggles of others.

And that strategy ended up winning the rise and excellence award for the impacted to head on our employee engagement. So her courage, first of all, that she shouldn’t have had to have impacted me and me needing to be authentic. And it changed not only the strategy, but it completely changed the way I teach leadership from here on out.

And the way I was a leader from here on out, I am still grateful for her.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Oh, powerful moment in

a moment. But like what a ripple

Karin: The ripple effect. 

Carolyn: Wow. All right. 

Second question , a practice or a ritual that you really depend on to keep you calm, grounded,

Karin: So I am a certified yoga instructor, which I did many years ago, I think 20 years ago, and I never actually really didn’t get certified to teach yoga, but I did it. So I understood it. And I don’t do yoga as every single day like I should because every single time I do it, I go, Oh, my gosh, that’s exactly I need more of this in my life.

But I do do it quite frequently. But I also can calm myself super down, super fast, right? I’m about to hop onto a keynote stage and something goes wrong. Right? I’m like, breathe, right? Like 

Carolyn: you go to the breathing,

Karin: Yeah. Yeah.

Carolyn: Do you have a certain breath technique that you like to use?

Karin: You know, for me, it is not, you know, I know I’ve, I’ve studied all the different kinds, but I, for me, it is just slow it down, you know, just slow it down, just really deep, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, because sometimes you don’t have that much time to calm yourself down.

You just 

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, and it’s a good reminder at how simple, like,

fine, you don’t know all the different breathing practices. Just, Ooh, okay. I’m

breathing in 

Karin: You know, you’re not going to like sit on stage and do alternative nostril breathing.

Carolyn: Exactly. Which I always find that one interesting. Cause I’m like, where do I actually put my

finger? Anyway, that’s another topic.

And now the last question, Karen, is what is a song or genre of music that really makes you feel connected to something bigger than yourself?

Karin: love singer songwriters. Absolutely love 

Carolyn: that’s a genre, but can you go one step further into a specific one or two or three?

Karin: Well, I, well, I must plug my cousin. So, we’re about nine. And really, they, they sing all kinds of, they’re, they’re telling really deep stories. But they’re, they’re interesting stories. But they’re always make you think. So they have a song called It’s Good to be Writing Again. And it talks about this this guy who’s a, was a writer.

He is having writer’s block. He breaks up with his girlfriend. It’s devastating, but now he has something to write about. So it’s good to be writing again.

Carolyn: And what are they called? We’re

Karin: We’re about nine, like nine years old. Like we’re about nine years old. Yeah.

Carolyn: Nice. All right. Well, we’re gonna have to check that out. Well, Karen, thank you so much for coming on the show. Please thank David for us as well. I know that he wasn’t here with us, but obviously a contributor to the book and just wishing you all the best with this amazing book that comes out into the world soon.

Karin: Carolyn, so much. This has been an absolute joy to talk with you. I can tell that we have a lot in common, so this is fun.

Carolyn: We do. And all of you listening, I’d highly recommend you getting that book. And it looks like it’s one of these, like buy the actual paper version instead of getting the digital one. Is that right, Karen?

Karin: To me, I think so, because I think it’s something you can sit on your desk and when you are in an acute conflict emergency, you can just, yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. Or you can put sticky notes to

earmark things. Yeah. Wonderful. All right. Thanks again for coming on the show, Karen. Really appreciate

So I just ordered my book. I think this tool that Karen just shared with us is so helpful, so relevant, and so real. I wish I had known how to deal with conflict at work. in a healthy way. I wish I knew that it could have been positive and I wish I’d had the tools to help me manage through it. And I think through this conversation with Karen today, I hope you’ve heard some examples, the four C’s, some of the goats that she talked about, the greatest of all time.

And I hope you find a way to take some of these insights and help you in your leadership journey. Thanks again for tuning in and please feel free to share this episode and don’t forget to leave a rating and a review on , the platform that you listen to. Thanks so much for joining us. We’ll see you next week. 

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