From Frustration to Solution: mastering conflict with “HEAR”

In a healthy work environment, facing conflicts with customers or colleagues is inevitable, but not necessary. Responding to their aggression, frustration, or passivity without actively seeking common ground never yields good results. I can guarantee this because I’ve made all the mistakes mentioned.

That’s where the HEAR framework comes into play. It helps build a mental structure for navigating conflicts constructively and, most of the time, generating positive outcomes.

Understanding the HEAR Framework

The HEAR framework consists of four steps:

1. Hedging your Claims (H):

Most of our statements aren’t universally true. Recognizing this opens space for exceptions and shows your willingness to listen and consider alternatives.

Good example: “While increasing the price might ultimately help protect margins, perhaps we could postpone it due to the current market conditions…”

Bad example: “Increasing the price now is a terrible idea.”

2. Emphasize Agreement (E):

Highlighting common ground encourages your counterpart to find a solution with you.

Good example: “I understand your desire to increase the price, and I’m confident we can find a balanced approach.”

Bad example: “Price increases are not an option, period!”

3. Acknowledge the Other Side’s Argument (A):

Active listening is crucial. Truly understanding their perspective, even if you disagree, opens them to hearing yours.

Good example: “It’s clear that raising the price could increase the average contract value of new customers…”

Bad example: “The idea to raise prices is short-sighted and ignores market trends.”

4. Reframe to the Positive (R):

Transform negative emotions and words into positive ones, focusing on solutions.

Good example: “While increasing the price now might impact morale, I’m sure we can find a way to both increase margins and maintain stable sales levels.”

Bad example: “Raising prices now will destroy sales team morale.”


The HEAR framework has helped me minimize stress and frustration during conflicts with customers, colleagues, and key stakeholders.

Remember, conflict resolution isn’t about “winning” arguments; it’s about achieving the best possible outcome through thoughtful and respectful conversations.

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