team building

Try This One Strategy To Better Manage Workplace Conflict.


Need to work out conflict between staff in your workplace?


“Vomping” is a simple and effective tool for working out interpersonal conflicts, establishing understanding, and finding common ground. If you follow the steps, it can really work.

A good recommendation is to familiarise your entire group with this process even before conflicts arise. That way, when an issue does come up, every person in the group will have this tool to tackle it—“hey, can we VOMP about this?”—and others will know what they are talking about! No one has to be afraid to bring something up because they don’t know how to handle it. Everyone is equipped with these simple steps to follow.

VOMPing happens in four stages—Vent, Own, eMpathize, Plan.  This process works best when two people step aside and communicate one-on-one in a private and respectful manner.  Each person needs to recognize the process and agree to go through all the steps, alternating turns and listening actively, without interrupting one another.

1. Vent

First, both people “vent” about this issue. This is your opportunity to tell your side of the story completely uninterrupted, and get it all out there. Just make sure you use “I” statements, speaking only from the first person to describe your own personal experience.  Be vigilant about not disrespecting your partner, and be honest. Use concrete examples, express your emotions, and get it all out there. One person goes first, then the other goes. While your partner is speaking, listen actively and do not interrupt them at all. Each person should have as long as they need to tell their story.

2. Own

Now, each person takes “ownership” of their words, actions, and attitudes and acknowledges their part in the story. Even when it seems like one person is totally “in the wrong” a conflict is never entirely one-sided. Be honest, and remember that both of you are motivated to clarify and resolve to problem.

This is a very exciting step in the process of conflict resolution because it allows each person to assume responsibility for their part in the conflict, and since both people are committed to taking responsibility, much of the fire of hostility is extinguished in this step. Ownership is a safe step because both people are committed to this process and to identifying their role in the conflict.

3. eMpathize

This is your chance to stand in the other person’s shoes, and see things from their perspective. When you do this, you are able to honestly internalize and recognize the other person’s experience and relate to their emotions and both the intended and unintended effects of your words and actions. Empathizing helps us grow in our understanding as people, and brings us closer together.

4. Plan

Now, suggest concrete actions and agreements that can be made to address the issue and solve the problem. Find the common ground here, and make an action plan. The plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, and can always be revised later.  Plans are important so we can move forward and feel like we’ve really accomplished something through the process. Plans can also be referred back to as a mutual basis for accountability in the future.

Want to know more about successfully managing conflict? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via email

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.



5 Strategies To Better Manage A Toxic Team


One of the things I actually enjoy doing is working with teams who may not be working to their true potential and sort “the woods from the trees” to provide strategies as to how that team can work more collaboratively together.

I read a recent article by Justin Bariso about opportunities to fix a toxic workplace and thought these strategies were a great first start.

When American business executive Douglas Conant took over as the president and CEO of Campbell's Soup, in 2001, he was faced with a formidable task. "The company's stock was falling steeply," writes Roger Dean Duncan in a profile for Fast Company. "Of all the major food companies in the world, Campbell's was the rock-bottom performer. Conant's challenge was to lead the company back to greatness." 

To many, the assignment seemed near impossible. Conant himself described the company culture as “toxic”. According to Duncan, employees were discouraged, management was dysfunctional, and trust was practically non-existent. 

Yet, somehow, Conant achieved the impossible. In less than a decade, the company had completed a remarkable turnaround and was outperforming the S&P 500. Sales and earnings rose. Employee engagement went from among the worst in the Fortune 500 to one of the best, as the company won multiple awards. 

So, how did he do it? 

Conant used emotional intelligence to build trust. He communicated well, set the example, praised sincerely and specifically, and delivered on his promises. 

For example, shortly after taking over, Conant began a signature practice: he put a pedometer on his belt, strapped on his walking shoes, and interacted meaningfully with as many employees as possible. "His goal was to log 10,000 steps a day," relates Duncan. "These brief encounters had multiple benefits. They helped him stay informed with the goings-on throughout the company. They enabled him to connect personally with people at every level. They enabled people to put a human face on the company's strategy and direction." 

The new CEO also handwrote up to twenty notes a day to employees celebrating their achievements. "Most cultures don't do a good job of celebrating contributions," says Conant. "So, I developed the practice of writing notes to our employees. Over 10 years, it amounted to more than 30,000 notes, and we had only 20,000 employees. Wherever I'd go in the world, in employee cubicles you'd find my handwritten notes posted on their bulletin boards." 

Douglas Conant didn't turn around Campbell's fortunes by chance. He focused on building relationships and changing its culture--one step (and thank-you note) at a time.

So, how can you begin turning around a toxic culture? 

It all starts with practicing the following behaviors:

1. Get down and dirty.

Think about your favourite boss. Did you care about where they went to school, what degree they had, or even what they accomplished before you knew them? All of this was irrelevant to your relationship.

But what about the hour they took to listen to your problem, and the steps they took to help? How about their readiness to roll up their sleeves, get down in the trenches, and do whatever needed to be done? 

Actions like these inspire trust.

2. Show some love.

People nowadays are worn down and underappreciated. These two factors are a breeding ground for toxic behaviour--because when people don't feel valued, they lose their desire to try.

What's the antidote? Sincere and specific commendation.

Train yourself to look for the good in others. When you see something you like, tell the person right away. Set aside time to handwrite thank-you cards. Tell your people what you appreciate, and why.

Everyone deserves commendation for something. By learning to identify, recognize, and praise those talents, you bring out the best in them. 

3. Set the example.

Let's say you ask me how to get somewhere you've never been before. I could outline step-by-step directions, draw you a map, even provide details about landmarks to look out for.

Or I could say: "That's not too far out of my way. Why don't you just follow me?"

Nice-sounding value statements, rules, and processes will only get a company so far. If you truly want to affect your culture, work hard to show others your values and priorities, and they'll naturally follow.

4. Humble yourself.

Being humble doesn't mean you lack self-confidence or that you never stand up for yourself. Rather, it involves recognizing that you don't know everything--and being ready to learn from others. 

For example, if you're younger or less experienced than colleagues or clients, acknowledge that and keep it in mind. If you demonstrate a willingness to learn, you will display humility and naturally earn respect. In contrast, if you're older or more experienced, show respect by not quickly dismissing new ideas or techniques. Instead, dignify those you work with by asking for their opinions and perspectives--and actually paying attention when they speak. 

Humility also means being willing to apologise.

"I'm sorry" can be the two most difficult words to say, but also the most powerful. When you're willing to admit your mistakes, you make a big statement about how you view yourself in relation to others. This naturally draws others closer to you, building trust and loyalty. 

5. Be constructive.

After you've done these other four things--and only then--can you begin to share critical feedback. 

This is vital because many people find it difficult to hear that they need to improve on something. But if you don't share that feedback, they'll never grow. 

If you make sure to gain their trust first--and deliver your feedback with emotional intelligence --they'll no longer interpret your critical feedback as a threat. Instead they'll see it as an effort to help, to make them better.

Remember, it all starts at the top.

If you hold a leadership position, whether you're the CEO, middle manager, or team lead, never underestimate the power of your influence. Every time you get down and dirty, every word of commendation or thank-you note you give, every time you set the example, every mistake you admit, and every piece of constructive advice you give will contribute to building deep and trusting relationships.

And help you turn toxic into thriving.


Want some help turning toxic into thriving? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via michelle@bakjacconsulting, or check here to review Bakjac Consulting’s website for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.



Is Your Team Confident?

Is Your Team Confident?

Building Confidence Is A Key Attribute For Mentally Tough People


What is Mental Toughness?

“A personality trait which determines in large part how people deal with challenge, stressors and pressure… irrespective of prevailing circumstances”

Clough and Strycharczyk”

Being mentally tough is being comfortable with who you are and equips you to be not only resilient but also confident and enables you to see challenges as opportunities – certainly very valuable within current VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) organisational climates.

Almost all successful people possess the mental toughness personality trait. This invariably means they are in control of their career and life and are sufficiently persistent and committed to fulfilling their goals. Mentally tough people create and take opportunities and have the confidence and self-belief to achieve the impossible as well as the possible.

Possessing the confidence to take full advantage of situations and opportunities is a key attribute of mentally tough people.

Building confidence, allows you to recognise and value your strengths and skills.  This “confidence” attribute enables you to develop your self-belief and therefore perform to and beyond your capability.  Building confidence and your self-belief also enhances your ability to influence others, especially during conflict and challenge.

A mentally tough person’s confidence reinforces their belief in their own situation without the need for extensive or continual external validation or encouragement.  

A confident person is comfortable in the company of others and builds rapport and relationships relatively quickly and easily.

Confidence is a key attribute within the 4C’s framework of the MTQ48 psychometric tool. The other 3 C’s are:




Control and Commitment combined represents resilience, the ability to survive.

Challenge together with Confidence measure confidence, the ability to flourish.

Overall, MTQ48 is an ideal framework to test and develop mental toughness.  The MTQ48, which takes 8-10 minutes online, is a normative measure that has been well researched and validated around the world and is now used extensively in the occupational, educational, social and sporting sectors.

Contact Michelle Bakjac at Bakjac Consulting to arrange for your team’s mental toughness to be assessed using the MTQ48 and gain some feedback as to how you could build your team’s confidence.

Call now on 0412047590

or email