RTC Blog

Conflict Resolution Using RTC

Hello RTC clients and friends,

While there are a few people who actually thrive on conflict, most people don’t enjoy being in the middle of conflict. Professional conflict is a part of work. If you don’t have any professional conflict, you’re not making enough things happen. While professional conflict can be a business catalyst, there are many people “losing sleep” over being involved in work conflict. In this blog, I will help you get started on how to unravel conflict sooner rather than later because “conflict is like sweat socks in a locker, they do not get better with age without help”.

Here are 3 steps along with thought-starter questions to using RTC to help resolve the conflict.

Step #1 has two qualifying questions. #1. Is the conflict resolvable/ is the issue fixable? #2. If yes, are we dealing with “normal” behavior? I believe there are issues that have run too deep and have become “irreconcilable differences” where the people involved are unwilling to work together to make things better. The second qualifying question is, “Are we dealing with normal behavior?” I know people are acting “crazy” but when we say “crazy” we are not talking about clinical behavior, we are talking about normal behavior where at least two people’s scales are out of balance. Make sure nobody involved has level 0 behavior. What is level 0 behavior? You can read about the 6 levels of Coaching Readiness here:

Once we determine we are dealing with normal human behavior and an issue all parties are willing to work on, we are ready for Step #2. The question for step #2 is, “What percentage of the conflict is personality based?” This is a question for all the participants to answer. Be prepared to invest some time to review the personality styles by using the TTI Success Insights Talent Insights Reports. You may want to consider having a trusted business partner (like me) to review the reports with everyone involved. If you are going to d-i-y and there are only two people involved in the conflict use the TTI Success Insights Comparison Report and if this is a team conflict, use the TTI Success Insights Team Report. The result of using these reports is vital to bringing down the defensiveness and re-building trust in the overall relationship. Participants will begin thinking something like, “Oh yeah, I forgot that’s how you are!” For more details and help on using personality reports, reach out to me.

Step #3. Take a WDIP inventory. When there is conflict, we have at least two people whose scales are out of balance. But why is that? Some of it is personality style based, but there is deeper work to be done and WDIP will help uncover more.

In short, WDIP is our RealTIme Coaching acronym for: What Do You Want, What are you Doing to get what you want?, Is what you’re doing working? and What is your Plan? These four questions answered by all parties involved will create alignment and expose disconnects that could have caused the conflict. For each category , when I am taking WDIP inventory for each category I ask a couple questions….

W: “On a scale of 1-10, how clearly do you know what you want regarding this issue?” What is it you want?” and “On a scale of 1-10, how clearly do you know what the other person wants regarding this issue”? “What do you think it is they want?”

D: “On a scale of 1-10, how clear are you on what you have done/are doing to get what you want? What actions have you taken?”

I: “Is what you are doing working?” “Is what the other person doing working?”

P: “What is our plan going forward?” Don’t ignore making a Plan. Sometimes, the conversation has gone very well, everyone shakes hands, leaves the meeting and goes about their day. You missed making a plan creating accountability for future behaviors. The plan is often the achilles heel of the RTC process because people don’t do it. The Plan should have 6 distinct steps we identify in RTC with the acronym of SMARTW.

Close the loop with a plan. The plan leads to the next meeting. Within 1-2 weeks, be sure to have a follow up. The topics for this meeting should have already written itself based on the WDIP inventory. The follow up meeting could start with an “Is question” such as: “Since we last met, is the conflict better, worse, or the same? No matter what they answer follow up with, “What makes you say that (better/worse/the same)?”

These first 3 steps should help you get professional conflict going in the right direction which ends up being a win for you, a win for the other people involved, and a win for the organization getting everyone’s scales back in balance, or at least close to it.

If you want help/guidance/realtime coaching with professional conflict you are working on, please feel free to reach out to me: [email protected]

Assumption vs. Inquiry

What happens at work when one co-worker makes an assumption about another’s bathroom habits?

Non-work-related distraction scenarios are common at work. When handled professionally, they are non-issues. When not handled well, they can escalate into full-blown festuches costing your organization time, productivity, engagement, and money. Examples of these types of issues are exposed tattoos, the smoky coat rack, and today’s scenario, “the office bidet”.

A couple employees in a professional office setting asked the CEO if he would be willing to get a bidet for the co-ed office restroom. He obliged. Within the first couple weeks of the new benefit, one of the employees made an assumption that a VP in the organization was either being exceptionally careless or maybe even deliberately urinating on the toilet in an act of defiance vs. the bidet. She decided to send an email directly to the VPee in question…

“I didn’t have time to stop in and speak with you today, however, I did want to bring up an issue in the restroom. There have been a couple of times I’ve gone into the restroom after you and there was urine all over the toilet seat and on the floor right in front of the toilet bowl. Today, I sat in urine. Very unsatisfactory and awfully gross. Please be mindful that women also use this restroom as I wouldn’t want this to happen to others.”

The VP is caught with his pants down upon receiving this email. He wants to give a quick reaction, but exhibits some level of emotional intelligence (self regulation) to formulate a better response. The VP sends an email to the CEO that says, “I want to call her a liar, but how do I even respond to this?”

The CEO decides to take a crack at it and examine the toilet in question. What he found was not urine, but a leaky bidet…video here…

There are several lessons learned; #1. When you assume, you may make an ass in front of you and me. #2. It’s usually better to inquire with someone directly vs sending an email. #3. If you have never tried a bidet, it’s a game-changer, but be sure to test the new bidet for leaks.

Feel free to add your own lessons learned and bathroom puns in the comments below.

RealTime Coaching Tip #7: Listen for the Coachee’s Story

A competent coach is able to hear what the coachee is saying without projecting his or her own experience onto the story. A coach listens carefully to get insights to help the coachee.

Everyone interprets what happens to them through his or her own worldview and self-view. Based on this, everyone creates his or her own story. By recognizing when and how the coachee is constructing their own story, the coach will better understand why that person is behaving as they are. These insights will give the coach a better chance of helping the coachee.

Everyone views their life through their particular “lens.” It is as if they are sitting in a movie theatre, watching their life on the screen and they are the only person in the theatre. If the coach comes in and starts watching that movie, the coach may think, “This doesn’t look right to me.” The coach may even see himself or herself as a character in the movie, but the portrayal will not look right to the coach. That is because it is not the coach’s movie. It is the coachee’s movie. It is their story— their life as they see it—not as the coach or anyone else might see it.

Bonus RealTime Coaching blog reference: realtimecoaching.com “Name an Animal That Swims”

RealTime Coaching Masterclass

I am happy to announce a new RealTime Coaching program I am calling the RTC Masterclass. RTC Masterclass takes an individualized LMS approach combining virtual work with live coaching. RTC masterclass has 6 hours of total work/time investment:

  • 1.5 hours of videos via 11 sessions
  • 2.5 of hours of reading/exercises via the RTC workbook and 2 books that are included
  • 2 hours of live meets with Ryan Lisk (or your individual RTC coach)

How it works:

  • Participant signs up and is sent the three physical books
  • Once participant has the materials, they complete RTC Masterclass bundle #1 which has 4 sessions. 
  • Each session has its own instructions indicating which pages to read and exercises to complete along with at least one video from me (some sessions have links to external coaching videos).
  • Session #1 “Intro to RTC”: (7 minute video)
  • Session #2 “Your Learning Objectives”: (2 minute video)
  • Session #3: “Let’s Coach”: (2 minute video from me with links to other coaching videos)
  • Session #4 “Do-To, Do-For, Do-With”: (10 minute video from me with link to external video)
  • After Session #4, the participant has follow up call #1 with Ryan. 
  • Once this call is complete, RTC Masterclass bundle #2 is released via email to the participant with 5 sessions
  • RTC Session #5: “RTC Revealed”: (7 minute video)
  • RTC Session #6: “What Do You Want”: (7 minute video)
  • RTC Session #7: “What Are You Doing”: (5 minute video)
  • RTC Session #8: “Is What You Are Doing Getting You What You Want”: (6 minute video)  
  • RTC Session #9: “What Is Your Plan”:  (7 minute video)
  • Session #10 will be emailed separately: “Inquiry vs Assumption”: (6 minute video)
  • Session #11 emailed separately: “RTC Exercises”: (24 minute video)
  • After session #11, participant completes 10-question Final Exam and emails to Ryan and schedules graduation live call
  • Graduation: Final live session with Ryan
  • Participant Teach-back
  • Review prep for a coaching conversation
  • Participant provides survey feedback
  • Participant receives graduation certificate indicating completion of 6 hours of RealTime Coaching The Basics

Pricing: I am offering the entire RTC Masterclass at an introductory launch price of $299.

To sign up or for more information, email me: [email protected]

What it Means to be Coachable

Not everyone is coachable. What does it even mean to be coachable? Are you coachable? Look at this “Coaching Readiness Scale” created by Lee Hecht Harrison and assign yourself a level.

If you gave yourself a Level 3, 4, or 5 you believe you are coachable. The biggest difference between Level 4 and Level 5 is usually a Level 4 is a “good soldier” and the coach is pulling level 4’s. A level 5 is proactive and pulling the coach (in a positive manner) throughout. If you gave yourself a level 1 or 2 you are probably not ready and you are more likely to view coaching somewhere between “a total waste of my time” and “not providing me any real value”.

Here’s an example of a level 2 when it comes to coaching readiness.

Dilbert by Scott Adams

Here’s level 1

The NCSA wrote a nice piece on what it means for a student-athlete to be coachable here: https://www.ncsasports.org/recruiting/how-to-get-recruited/coachable?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=blog&utm_campaign=article_1&mktgcid=newsletter

According to the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) 35% of college coaches put “character” as the #1 attribute they look for in a recruit ahead of both athletic ability and academics.

NCSA describes the difference between being coachable and uncoachable

Coachable: Understands criticism is not personal, responds positively to criticism by listening and applying feedback, and applies what they’ve been taught to improve their game.

Uncoachable: Takes criticism personally, becomes defensive when receiving feedback, and fails to apply what they’ve been taught.

The coach definitely plays an important role in this relationship and there are coaches more effective than others. We will explore what it means to be a good coach on a different day. For today, think about how coachable you are as well as those you work with.

If you are looking for a RealTime executive coach that brings a simple, practical, entrepreneurial style to the coaching process, send me an email: [email protected]

Getting Started with Styles

Teams are made up of people. These people have roles such as players, staff, coaches, and others. In order for the individuals and the team to get what they want, they have to take action; we call this Doing. There are two types of Doing: Stats and Styles. Stats are the WHAT of your actions, they are your results and are usually measured by a Yes, a No, or a Number. Examples of stats are: Wins/Losses, new Revenue, and employee turnover. Stats can be found everywhere but each individual needs stats to know if they are doing a good job or not.

The other side of Doing is Styles. Every individual on a team has their own preference for HOW they communicate and HOW they get their “Stats” accomplished.  This is their Doing “Style”.  Don’t mistake Doing Style for “Personality Style”.  Every individual’s personality is made up of far more characteristics than their “Doing Style”.  Doing is observable behavior. 

Have you ever noticed some people are super-competitive; others just want to have fun; others don’t really say much, and yet others seem to be very analytical.  That’s because we all have our own natural style of HOW we communicate and get things done. 

Some leaders use a “my way or the highway” communication approach.  We call this “The Golden Rule” of communication because these people are leading or coaching others the way they prefer to be communicated with. 

Ryan’s Sidenote:  Worse than The Golden Rule is coaching others the way you used to be coached (not being yourself).    

The best leaders are practicing “The Platinum Rule”:  Communicating with others the way they prefer to be communicated with.  The Platinum Rule only requires a small adjustment, not an overhaul of your own style.

It can take 3-6 months for you to realize your communication mistakes you are making with another person on your team.  If you are in sports, in 6 months the season may be over.  You must accelerate your communication time to effectiveness (TTE). Credit to Brent Patmos for the term TTE. 

There are three levels when coaching to styles:

  1. Understand your own style
  2. Appreciate not everyone has the same style as you
  3. Adapt/tweak your style to others for better results

How to Identify Styles

If you are new to coaching styles, you may want to invest in a tool that measures styles.  We recommend TTI Success Insights Style Insights tool.  This tool provides options:  4 styles (basic), 8 styles (intermediate) and 12 styles (advanced). 

If you want to do-it-yourself, there are two questions that will allow you to classify yourself and others into one of the four basic categories. 

Question #1:  Is the person more outgoing or reserved?

Question #2:  Does the person focus on people-first or task-first?

Depending on your answers, you will get one of the following four categories:

  • Outgoing/Task-First:  This style is “Direct”.  Direct styles enjoy challenges, tend to just talk “business”, and want to win.
  • Outgoing/People-First:  This style is “Outgoing”.  Outgoing styles enjoy being with other people, are usually optimistic, and like to have fun.
  • Reserved/People-First:  This style is “Steady” or “Predictable”.  Predictable styles are consistent, reliable, and loyal.
  • Reserved/Task-First:  This style is “Precise”.  Precise styles are logical, analytical, and like things done the right way. 

Case Study

You are the coach/leader of this 21-person team.  You are using Lisk Associates and the TTI Style Insights tool to create a team wheel.  Your style is Outgoing (yellow). 

  • Red dots = Direct styles
  • Yellow dots = Outgoing styles
  • Green dots = Predictable styles
  • Blue dots = Precise styles

If you are practicing The Golden Rule, your natural style is resonating with the six other yellow players on the team (29%).  Your natural style will not work as well with 71% of the team. 

You may be saying things like:

  • Trust me
  • It’s going to all work out
  • This will be fun

The yellow dots seem to get it.  

The blue dots don’t seem to believe you (you lack stats/ scouting report). 

The red dots just want to win (you lack a winning strategy/gameplan). 

The green dots don’t seem to really care (you lack a playbook/process).

Lauren Sanderson from Colgate Volleyball got it when she told me, “I observed only 20% of volleyball athletes fit the “Michael Jordan” Direct profile, so you need to communicate with the other 80% differently than you may think.”


  • On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know your style and the style of others on your team?
  • How is your style helping you?
  • What is your style costing you?
  • What are you going to do to get buy-in from the other 70% of your team? 

For strategies to improve your communication with others’ styles and advanced coaching to styles, reach out to me and let’s get started:  [email protected]

RTC Scenario: Feedback on Twitter; What Would You Do?

Hello everyone and welcome to another version of “RTC: what would you do?”. Here’s today’s RTC scenario:

You are the executive coach for a mid-sized sports bar/restaurant owner, “Matt”. Matt is into many ventures and is probably best known for hosting a successful radio show. He is certainly considered a local celebrity and has recently become a national media host. He is active on social media and at the time of writing this scenario Matt has over 223,000 followers on Twitter.

Recently, a customer to his restaurant, “John” went to Twitter to provide some feedback to Matt on his recent visit to the restaurant. On Sunday 10-3-21 at 2:31 PM John tweeted: “@KSBarandGrille was told “we only have one cook, we didn’t expect to be this busy”. It’s Sunday during NFL season and they are a sports bar. What a joke.” At the time of writing this scenario John has 136 followers on Twitter.

AT 6:59 PM that same night Matt replied on twitter: “Tell you what John, we would love to have you come to the back and see how hard our cooks have worked this weekend during a huge worker shortage while we have been amazingly short staffed. Maybe salute the one cook we had working his ass off and don’t be a jerk.”

Matt has said several times, “don’t ever punch down, always punch up.” Your next coaching meet with Matt is tomorrow. As Matt’s coach, what are you going to do? I look forward to your thoughts, comments, replies, and questions.

I’ve Been Letting Things Slide. When Should I Take Action?

Today ends the first half of the year. Have you been “letting things slide”? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a trend I’ve been hearing from leaders since the pandemic…..They say to me, “Well, Ryan, her team has been short-handed.” Or, “I was just wanting to get through this season.” Or, “They were working remotely and I just didn’t do their review.” The issues are many and include everything from showing up late, to not getting work done, to not being proactive, to breaking team rules. No matter the story or the issue, they all involve people, standards, culture, and results. These issues are not new. They have been happening for years. However, employees and teammates have been “protected by the pandemic” and leaders have been letting things slide.

The best leaders inject themselves into the story, acknowledging they have let things slide and they are ready to fix it. You may be someone who is ready for things to get back to the way they were, but you have to untie some things that have gotten knotted up over the past year. The question is….Is it too late? How do I even get started?

Let’s get started by determining how urgent and important the issue is. I was introduced to the Urgent+Important quadrants from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. A recent RTC participant (Thanks Alan) sent an article from todoist.com called The Eisenhower Matrix.

RTC takes a new look at this classic matrix by asking two questions:

#1. On a scale of 1-10, how Urgent is it this issue gets resolved?

#2. On a scale of 1-10, how Important is the issue?

If the total number of the 2 questions is 15 or higher, it’s time to take action. It’s that simple. (Ryan’s styles sidenote: If you have a naturally more Urgent style, you may need to adjust your scale up 2 points and if you have a naturally more Reflective style, you may need to adjust your scale down 2 points).

You’ve determined it’s time to take action, but you don’t know how to start. Every situation is unique, our process is the same. I will suggest two ways for you to get started.

#1. Here is a template to help get your mind unstuck and get your thoughts together. It’s called Prep For A Coaching Conversation. You should invest 10-15 minutes completing the 20 questions (you should recognize question #2).

#2. 6 months from now, you have fixed the issue and things are going great, what has changed? Your answer to this question determines your WANT for this issue. The WANT drives the action, the action delivers a result.

It’s time to stop letting things slide, recognizing what’s important+urgent, determining your want, establishing a RealTime plan of action, and being able to answer to yourself 6 months from now how things are going.

RTC Tip #34: Close the Loop with a Plan

A typical coaching cycle usually takes place over a number of conversations, often lasting weeks or months. Each conversation becomes a step along the path toward success (what you want). As a leader, you want to create ownership or accountability with your coachees by #1. Making sure each conversation ends with a SMART plan (see RTC tip #27: Create SMART plans) and #2. Begin each subsuquent conversation with a review of the progress made from the previous conversation’s plan.

During this review, it should be easy for both you and the coachee to determine if the plan was completed (often the answers can be as simple as a “yes” “no” or “a number”). Now, you have helped the coachee be accountable for working towards what they want to achieve.

The plan is called the achilles heel of the RealTime coaching process. What happens when you don’t have a SMART plan? The plan comes off track with distractions such as rehashing old issues, lack of clarity about what the coachee was supposed to do, and excuses. Basically, a lack of ownership or accountability.

The plan keeps the coaching conversation loop closed and progress moving forward.

Keep RealTime Coaching!

RTC Tip #25: Diagnose Before Prescribing

RealTime Coaching is based on Dr. William Glasser’s original works known as Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. Glasser was seen as revolutionary for actually diagnosing his patients before prescribing a treatment. In many instances, he found his patients did not have a medical condition at all, they simply needed a behavioral course correction.

Today, the best leaders and coaches still believe in diagnosing before prescribing. Actions, improvements, and results are ultimately the responsibility of the person being coached. However, when things are not working as planned, a coach should continually diagnose for problems. Here are four questions to help diagnose potential gaps.

#1. Does the person have sufficient awareness of the need for change? Do they even know there is an issue? Does the person understand the consequences for not changing? On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for the person to make the change?

#2. Does the person feel a strong enough sense of urgency? The coach may ask, “What do you think will happen if you continue doing the same thing you’ve been doing?” Sometimes a person is interested in change, but not committed to change. On a scale of 1-10, how urgent is it this change happens? Ryan’s note: If the 1-10 scores for these two questions add up to 15 or higher, then the person has deemed the issue both important and urgent enough to take action.

#3. Has the person created a SMART plan? A goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.

#4. What has the person done differently? Have they taken any action? If yes, this new action is known as a “behavioral shift”. If the person has not taken any action, review their scores from questions 1 and 2 to be sure importance and urgency are high enough. If necessary, re-check the plan….Is any of the SMART criteria missing? What did the person indicate they would do? By when? Were there roadblocks or surprises? If they “don’t know”, a coach may ask, “What is more important to you than making this change?”

And the diagnosis continues. The best prescriptions come from the person being coached. Keep coaching.