Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 193 | Listening | Successful Teams & Conflict

I never looked at it from this perspective, but conflicts are actually sometimes good. You have to choose the right grounds though. You have five different types: compromise, collaboration, avoidance, competing and accommodating. In this podcast, you’re going to learn a lot about the stages of a conflict, as well as the different ways of compromising.

Read Success teams and conflict. Complete the article with the headings (a-e)

a. Balancing the needs of the individual __

b. Adapting to context __

c. Utilizing conflict to reach our full potential __

d. Workplace conflict; a necessary evil? __

e. The role of conflict in team development __

__ 1 We’ve all been there. The boardroom fails silent as two o fits occupants lock horns. Some of the onlookers revel in the conflict, silently watching it unfold. Others try to pacify and mediate. Others still, strategically take sides. Although conflict in the workplace has traditionally been seen as detrimental, some modern theorists claim it is essential to productivity. An ugly, but necessary obstacle on the path to optimum performance. So, at what stage in a team’s development might conflict arise and how can it be successfully navigated.

__ 2 One of the first academics to see conflict as a necessary and inevitable part of a team’s development was the psychologist, Bruce Tuckman. In his 1965 publication, Development Sequence in Small Groups, Tuckman proposed a four-stage theory of team development. The model explains the maturity, development, relationships, and performance of a group. The four stages are:


At this stage, the group is created and learns about the opportunities and challenges available. They agree on goals and discuss how to tackle any issues present. One challenge at this stage is the fact that each team member will still largely be operating as an individual and the predominant behavior is polite and courteous, meaning people refrain from conflict. Leaders tend to play a dominant role at this stage, offering guidance and direction.


At this stage, people start to push against any of the established boundaries and begin to form strong opinions about the other personalities and characters in the group. When people are perceived as not pulling their weight or attempting to dominate the group, then others will push back. If disagreements and conflict of personality are not resolved at this stage, some teams may never move on, or will quickly re-enter this phase as disputes arise. Intolerance and impatience can be high. Managers frequently need to intervene in order to resolve issues.


If a group is able to move beyond the storming stage, then agreement and consensus evolves. Leaders can take more of a facilitative role, rather than acting as autocratic leaders, as people become comfortable with their colleagues and have a much clearer appreciation of their roles and responsibilities. Teams are committed and unified towards a common goal and strive to accommodate each other’s needs.


The team now has a shared vision that does not require the intervention of a leader. They work in a largely autonomous manner and generally want to outperform the goals set during the group’s inception. Conflict is easily resolved and the members now look to each other, rather than leadership, for help and support.

In 1977, Tuckman revised his theory to include a fifth stage:


This final stage reflects the status of a group after it has disbanded. If a strong team was formed initially, then the break-up stage can leave people feeling vulnerable and insecure about the change. A great deal of empathy is often required from management at this stage.

__ 3 Successfully navigating the “storming” stage of Tuckman’s model relies, in part, on the ability to recognize sources of conflict. A lack of shared goals or the perception of different priorities is a common cause of conflict, as are personality clashes. Significant differences in working styles, conflicting methods of communication, and different expectations of individual output can all contribute to a hostile working environment. People often value different things or face of scarcity of resources that makes it hard to collaborate. When individuals feel that they have to compete with other team members for a share of a limited budget, it is inevitable that conflict will occur.

__ 4 So if conflict of varying degrees is highly likely, what’s the best way to resolve the issues that arise? Given the diverse sources of conflict, it is perhaps unsurprising that successful teams are able to adapt their reactions to suit a range of contexts. According to Thomas and Kilmann, in conflict situations, as individual’s behavior can be broadly described along two dimensions; assertiveness (i.e., the extent to which the individual tries to satisfy his or her own need) and cooperativeness (i.e., the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy the needs of his or her competitor). These two basic dimensions can then be used to define five conflict management styles:


Individuals show a high degree of cooperation, often to the detriment of their own objectives. It may involve yielding to the view of someone else, even when you disagree with them. This style works well when the other person has more expertise and/or style works well when the other person has more expertise and/or a better solution, and can also strengthen long-term relationships.


Here the individual neither addresses their own concerns, nor helps others resolve theirs. Rather than confront issues head on they actively avoid them, often by diplomatically moving to another topic, postponing discussion, or retreating from discussion altogether. For minor issues this is a good way to minimize conflict and is also effective when a situation is emotionally charged or tense. However, in the long-term, this strategy can lead to conflict and failure.


Here people mutually try to achieve both sets of goals through consultation, which can be effective in complex situations. However, it requires a lot of trust, time, and effort to reach a consensus that accommodates all ideas and perspectives.


Individuals aggressively pursue their own interests at the expense of those around them, subsequently making little to no attempt to cooperate. Often this approach does not work well and leads to the greatest amount of conflict. However, when decisive action is needed, for example, in times of emergency, this can be an effective way to resolve conflict.


This mode presents a happy medium. Both parties aim to find a mutually acceptable solution to the issue at hand. This might mean accepting views that you don’t agree with in order to have some of your own accommodated. This style could work when goals are of equal importance, but largely it leads to neither goal being reached effectively.

__ 5 Given the diffuse sources of conflict, a successful team must learn to adapt both its working and management styles in order to optimize performance, regardless of individual beliefs and preferences. In other words, teams that are unable to accommodate and harness conflict may never achieve their full potential. However you choose to address conflict in the workplace, one thing is clear; it is an essential part of a team’s development, and until we view it as such, we will consistently underperform.

skillful reading 4

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Exam Success | Episode 1 | Ann Succeeding In IELTS

Such an amazing talk with someone who I had just met a day before the exam. After reaching out to people in the group to try and be of service, I ended up coming across Ann, who was preparing to take her IELTS test in just a day’s time. She got her results within five days times, and to her astonishment, she achieved the band in her speaking. Well, to kick off this new series, I’m going to bring on people who have achieved success in different test preparation courses. Welcome to a new series!

Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 191 | Presentation Skills | How to Cope with Different Presentation/Lecture Styles

Many people, like me, enjoy different presentation styles — based on tonality, energy, story-telling, etc.  I have my favorites, and then there are presenters that put me to sleep. So, if you’re someone who not only has to listen to a presentation but also engage in meetings with foreigners who speak monotone….how can you cope? Well, that’s today’s discussion. Tune in!

  1. Think of two lecturers you have had during your academic/professional career. Describe the style and approach of each one in the comment section on this blog.
  • organization of material
  • speed of delivery
  • style of lecture
  • visuals and support material provided

If you regularly have the same lecturer, you will become familiar with the speed of delivery, the amount of support provided, and the organization of material. When the lecturer is new to you, be prepared with your notebook and audio recorded. Access all available support material, and listen for clues to the organization of the lecture in the opening to the lecture.

Listen to two parts of a lecture in the podcast down below. Identify which lecturer does each thing, Speaker A (Brett Wilson) or Speaker B (Sofia Lang).

  1. Provides pre-reading
  2. Starts with examples and then moves to general statements
  3. Encourages interaction
  4. Gives clear verbal signposts for the organization
  5. Speaks faster
  6. Relies on visuals for showing organization

Early Access to next week’s episode titled: TOEFL iTP — Grammar — Errors with Articles.

Early access (general patreon badge = $5) is now available on my Patreon! If you’re learning TOEFL iTP, this is going to be a two-part series (free to the public over two weeks but now available on Patreon if you subscribe to my badge), as well as exercise (exclusive to Patreon only) for you guys to practice! Link down below!


Release Tension/Stress Performance Prompts

  • The things that cause me the most amount of tension each day are….
  • A way I can remind myself to release that tension throughout that day is….
  • If I felt more energy I would be more likely to
  • When I reset my energy everyday with this practice, I’d like to start the next activity like….

So, throughout the day, we experience a number of transitions. Let me give you an example. When I wake up and do 30-90 flights of stairs in my condo — before I do that, there’s a transition.

  • Before I go to the gym
  • After I go to the gym
  • Before I go to work
  • After I finish work
  • Between classes
  • Activities such as getting on a call

These are all transitions, and we have a tendency of carrying things from one activity to another. Ask yourself these questions…

  1. Do you ever carry any negative energy from one activity to the next?
  2. Do you feel depleted but still plough through activities?
  3. Are you losing a sense of presence and appreciation for life and others the further you go throughout the day?

Releasing Technique

To overcome the depletion and tension, do a releasing activity to release yourself mind, spirit, back, legs, muscles, EVERYTHING….from all the tension you may have experienced. Inhale for 6 seconds and exhale for 4 while saying “RELEASE”. Brendan Burchard’s YouTube video is down below for a longer release.

I did this before my workout and I realized I had one of the greatest workouts EVER. I did it when I got off the last train before getting to my condo and I had an amazing sleep. I did this before having a class with one of my students and we ended up having an AMAZING class.

Then, don’t forget to set INTENTION.

  • What energy do I want to bring to the next activity?
  • How can I do that with excellence?
  • How can I enjoy listening to someone? How can I enjoy it even more? Such as writing notes, continue listening, grab a cup of coffee. Etc.



TOEFL iBT | Part 3 Question | Speaking | Vertical Migration + Note-taking

Welcome back to another TOEFL iBT Speaking segment. Today we’re going to be focusing on Part III, a difficult task for many non-NES speakers (because it’s difficult to follow) and in today’s podcast, we’re doing vertical migration. This was a difficult task for a recent student of mine because he was unable to follow the conversation. However, I’ll show you exactly how I had taken notes (video down below in the links if you want to see it).

TOEFL iTP | Reading | The Peale Family

We’re back with I believe the first or second or its kind. In today’s podcast/video/blog, I’ll be dissecting an old reading passive from a PBT TOEFL book (exactly like TOEFL iTP). In this one I’m going to break down each question, little by little. So if you want to see my corrections, tune into the video down below!

The Peales were a distinguished family of American artists. Charles Wilson Peale is best remembered for his portraits of leading figures of the American Revolution. He painted portraits of Franklin and Jefferson, and over a dozen of George Washington. His life-size portrait of his sons Raphaelle and Titians was so realistic that Georgia Washington reportedly tipped his hat to the figures in the picture.

Charles Wilson Peale gave up painting in his middle age and devoted his life to the Peale Museum, which he founded in Philadelphia. The world’s first popular museum of art and natural science featured paintings by Peal and his family as well as displays of animals in their natural settings. Peale found the animals himself and devised a method of taxidermy to make the exhibits more lifelike. The museum’s most popular display was the skeleton of a mastodon — a huge, extinct elephant — which Peale unearthed on a New York farm in 1801

Three of Peale’s seventeen children were also famous artists. Raphaelle Peal often painted still lifes of flowers, fruit, and cheese. His works show the same luminosity and attention to detail that the works of the Dutch masters show. In the late eighteenth century, however, portraiture was the rage, and so Raphaelle Peale found few buyers for his still lifes at the same time. His brother Rembrandt studied under his father and painted portraits fo many noted people, including one of George Washington. Another brother, Rubens Peale, painted mostly landscapes and portraits.

James Peale, the brother of Charles Wilson Peale, specialized in miniatures. His daughter Sara Miriam Peale was probably the first professional female portrait painter in America.

Complete TOEFL
  1. What is the main topic of the passage?

a. The life of Charles Wilson Peale

b. Portraiture in the 18th century

c. The Peale Museum

d. A family of artists

2. The author probably mentions that Washington “tipped his hat to the figures in the painting” to indicate that…

a. Charles Wilson Peale’s painting was very lifelike

b. Washington respected Charles Wilson Peale’s work

c. Washington was friendly with Raphaelle and Titian Peale

d. The painting of the two brothers was extremely large

3. The word “settings” is closest in meaning to which of the following?

a. Environments

b. Categories

c. Positions

D. Requirements

4. For which of the following terms does the author give a definition in the second paragraph?

a. Natural science

b. Skeleton

C. Taxidermy

D. Mastodon

5. Which of the following questions about th ePeale Museum does the passage NOT supply enough information to answer?

a. Who found and prepared its animal exhibits?

b. In what city it was located?

c. Where did the most popular exhibit come from?

d. In what year was it founded?

6. The word “unearthed” has the closest meaning to….

a. displayed

b. dug up

c. located

d. looked over

7. Which of the following words could best be substituted for the word “rage”…

a. Fashion

b. Anger

c. Conflict

d. Desire

8. According to the passage, Rembrandt Peale and his father both painted…

a. miniatures

b. portraits of George Washington

c. paintings of flowers, fruit, and chese

d. pictures of animals

9. Which of the following is NOT one of the children of Charles Wilson Peale?

a. Titian Peale

b. Rubens Peale

c. Raphaelle Peale

d. Sarah Miriam Peale

10. The author’s attitude toward the Peales is generally..

a. envious

b. puzzled

c. admiring

d. disappointed

TOEFL iBT | Writing | Independent Essay | Employing Structure & Why It’s Better Than a Template

Welcome back to another TOEFL iBT writing segment! Today I’ll be talking about why structure should be employed more than using templates.  Also, I want you to see how I elevated one of my online clients by employing that structure: the before, write up example, and then the after.  There’s a massively noticeable difference in her work….so check it out!


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 170 | Study Skills | How Effective Are You In Giving Presentations & Talks?

We have different strengths as speakers. It useful to reflect on these skills and also to identify areas we could improve. However, to be most effective, as well as identifying areas for improvement, we also need to make a plan for how to improve.

Use a checklist to identify your strengths and areas for improvement. For example:

Was my main argument clear?RatingHow could I improve this aspect?
1 2 3 4 5Clearly identify the main point
when planning the presentation
and make sure I signpost this to
the audience and include enough
examples and supporting points.
Aspects of giving a talkRatingHow could I improve this?
How good was my opening?12345
Did I begin with a brief outline?
Did I stick to my outline?
Was my main argument clear?
Did I sum up at the end?
How well did I finish?
How appropriate were my handouts or audiovisual aids?

Think of the following: audience, different viewpoints, examples, eye contact and body language, feedback, order of points, questions.


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 167 | Discussion Point | Top 5 Challenges Facing Humanity

Here you go with another discussion point! What we’ll be talking about today are the top 5 challenges that face humanity: lack of freshwater, food production, invasive technology, increasing economic divide, climate change.

Here are the discussion points.

  1. Of the threats listed in the infographic, which do you think poses the greatest challenge? Why?
  2. Which sectors do you think will be the most affected by increased automation?
  3. What practical measures could be implemented to address the growing economic divide.

The audio of “The CO2 Forest” will be in the podcast down below!