Interpersonal Tension Resolution Process

Managing interpersonal conflict can be difficult. We can lose perspective and become overrun with emotion. Often it’s helpful to engage with someone else to talk through our challenges before engaging directly with the colleague we’re in tension with.

Interpersonal Tension Coaches

ITCs are colleagues who have expressed a willingness to engage in confidential conversation and help us prepare for difficult conversations. The current coaches are: Dirk Propfe, Brent Lowe and Rob Reed.

The primary role of tension coaches is to provide conflict resolution skills and strategies by helping us each turn the lens back on ourselves first (an often difficult but necessary step) and support us in having radically caring and candid conversations.

Interpersonal Tension Resolution Process

ET Group’s Interpersonal Tension Process calls upon each of us to follow the process step-by-step and avoid skipping steps. As the initiator of this process, you must be willing to participate in the process. For a brief overview of the process you can check out this video. If you feel uncomfortable doing so for any reason, you are encouraged to engage with an ETG Way Coach (search ETG Way Coach in Sobol for list) who can work with you to determine a path forward.


  1. Initiate: When you notice a tension, you become the initiator of the Interpersonal Tension Process*.

* If the tension relates to someone violating the ETG Harassment & Discrimination policy then go straight to enaging the HR Generalist role, who will document the incident and bring in the appropriate team members.

2. One-on-one conversation: Approaching someone with feedback is usually a good first step toward resolving interpersonal tensions. Try using the SBI/TIR feedback model. As the initiator, the intention of this step is to seek a positive resolution by asking for what you need or desire, both now and in the future.

Your request needs to be clear (not a judgement or demand) to the other person. It is then up to the receiver of your request to respond with a yes, no or counterproposal. You can ask an ETG Way Coach for help to prepare.

3. Mediation support: If the one-on-one conversation doesn’t resolve the tension, the next step is to bring an Interpersonal Tension Coach (either an ETG Way Coach or another colleague who has been trained and is being supported by an ETG Way Coach) as a mediator. The Interpersonal Tension Coach needs to be someone with whom both participants are comfortable engaging. In their role, the Interpersonal Tension Coach will begin the process by providing a reminder of confidentiality and seeking mutual agreement of all participants. The Interpersonal Tension Coach will also be accountable for ensuring the process outcomes are documented and forwarded to the HR Generalist role for filing. The Interpersonal Tension Coach’s role is to help the participants find an agreement, but is not a decision maker.

4. Hand off to decision stewards: If there is still no resolution, the Interpersonal Tension Coach (engaged in step 3) and the associated Lead Link(s) become decision stewards and are responsible for finding a resolution. Their role is to engage, listen and make a final decision on a path forward.

Everyone is expected to respect confidentiality during and after the processes. The individuals at the heart of the conflict must resolve the issue between themselves and are discouraged from spreading the conflict by enlisting support of anyone not directly involved in the process.

The following flow chart outlines the steps of the process

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