Christa Kirby

VP, Global Learning Innovation, IIL

How to Get in Front of Conflict Before It Gets in Front of You

When the Marine Corps plots a critical incident on a timeline going from left to right, the conflict itself is referred to as “bang.” What happens to the right of that on the timeline is where the fighting begins; where you WANT to be is on the left – where preparation and enhanced observation skills can combine to help prevent the conflict from occurring. As project professionals, our trenches look a little different than those of the Marines, but our conflict timelines—and the skillsets that can get us in front of workplace conflict—are strikingly similar.

In this presentation, we will explore many facets of conflict, including which types to stimulate and which types to minimize in order to keep your teams innovating and collaborating. Drawing on her experience working in conflict and post-conflict zones, Christa will provide insight into: recognizing physiological cues of discomfort; anticipating interpersonal conflict before it occurs; de-escalating emotional situations; mastering difficult conversations; and mediating interpersonal conflict to create a positive outcome. Translating critical scientific findings from an elite Marine Corps training program into the language of projects, she will share tools and techniques aimed to keep you and your projects well to the “left of bang.”


With a BA from Duke University and an MA from New York University, Christa Kirby is an experienced Communications professional as well as a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and trainer. For the past decade, Christa has conducted workshops and led trainings for corporations, non-governmental organizations and foundations in countries including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece and the US. Her specialty areas of focus are team-building, leadership, conflict resolution, effective communication, cross-cultural communication and peace-building.


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