Handling Conflict: Recognize it, Confront it, Resolve it [National Assembly Session Recap]

National Assembly attendees listen to Don Egle speak about successfully addressing conflict. Photo courtesy of Twitter.

Session: Risk Management: Navigating Difficult Conversations

Presenters: Don Egle, APR, ABC, PRSSA National Professional Adviser, Senior Director of Communications & Spokesperson for James Madison University; Brian Price, PRSSA Immediate Past President, Assistant Account Executive at Edelman; Heather Harder, PRSSA National President, Account Coordinator at Capstrat


“Who likes conflict?”

Few people raised their hands when this question was asked. Conflict isn’t easy to handle, but there are practical steps you can take to develop skills to resolve a conflict. According to PRSSA National President, Heather Harder, we should first know our style. There are five conflict management styles: avoider, competitor, accommodator, compromiser and collaborator. Collaborators handle conflict best by discussing situations clearly and striving to fully understand every position.

PRSSA Immediate Past President Brian Price stated that we must examine ourselves and think, “Who am I?” How do you relay your personality and what you represent? People’s body language, spoken words and social media all play into this. Be sure that all channels are communicating your personality accurately.

Don Egle provided practical tools for productive and appropriate conflict management. These tips included mining for conflict, listening, learning to say “I’m sorry,” knowing when to ask for help and breathing. Stop being selfish, and build your relationships on trust, he advised. For PRSSA leadership specifically, always refer to the PRSA Code of Ethics and discuss conflicts with your academic and professional advisers.


  • Conflict is not a bad thing; handling conflict poorly is a bad thing.
  • Recognize a problem before it becomes a problem.
  • Instead of running from conflict, embrace it with a level head.
  • Follow the PRSA Code of Ethics.


Kelly Reed is the public relations director and upcoming president of PRSSA at Indiana Wesleyan University. She is a strategic communications junior and hopes to work as a communications director at a nonprofit organization after graduation. Follow Reed on Twitter @kellyreed00 or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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