Most livery yards have problems with politics between their clients at some point. So how can you minimise the fallout and stop a bad atmosphere ruining your enjoyment of spending time with your horse?

Organisational psychologist Sarah Lewis of Appreciating Change has the following advice on dealing with conflict:

1.Talk to the person you have the issue with, rather than everyone else.

2. Be clear what a successful outcome from the conversation looks or sounds like. What are you trying to achieve — an apology, an agreement about behaviour in future, or to renegotiate an existing agreement, for instance?

3. Try to arrange to meet face to face. Then you can pick up immediately on how what you are saying is being received.

4. Avoid an audience for your conversation and don’t bring friends
or family in with you as back-up.

5. Be generous. Try to understand the other person’s situation and their problems so that you can offer something helpful to them as you negotiate to get what you want.

6. Try not to get dragged into the past and issues of fault and blame. Focus instead on what you want to happen in
the future.

7. Afterwards, write down your understanding of what has been agreed and share it with the other person.

8. Try to have the conversation when you are able to keep your emotions under control. If you’re furious, leave it a while. And don’t rise to the bait when words are used that trigger a reaction in you.

9. Address issues that are bugging you as soon as possible to prevent a head of steam building up and to give the other person a fair chance of resolving something he or she may be unaware of.

10. Stick to the issue you want to resolve. Don’t bring all the other past complaints or resentments you have into the discussion — avoid the, “And another thing…” conversation.

Ref: H&H 30/6/13