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 | Season 5 Episode 192 | Critical Thinking | Making Counter Arguments and Concessions

Welcome back to another ESL podcast! In today’s podcast, we’re going to look into ways that are effective in terms of strengthening your own argument.

By including and dealing with opposing views in the form of counter arguments, you anticipate objections, demonstrate you have considered the issues in depth, and provide strong support for your own conclusions.

A counter argument may highlight a disadvantage of the argument you propose, or give an alternative explanation that seems to make more sense. Such opposing arguments are often introduced with a signpost phrase or question, e.g., However, it could be said that….some people argue that…., admittedly,….but isn’t this just…..?

To then deal with the counter argument, demonstrate how or why the counter argument is incorrect or how it is less important or probably than your argument. Avoid stating a counter argument without refuting it.

Concessions show respect and consideration for the opposing views, by acknowledging some positive features of them, e.g., They are correct in the sense that…., while we agree that….

  1. Match the two sets of arguments, counter arguments, and refutations.
  • The main reason is that women are choosing careers.
  • Performance doesn’t change easily, and studies support the theory of the effect of role conflict.
  • Fathers face conflict with their roles, so we cannot conclude it is the woman’s choice.
  • The promoted worker’s performance went down due to role conflict.
  • The issue of declining birth rates is too complex to identify one cause.
  • The promoted worker’s performance went down due to laziness.

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

IELTS | Speaking | 1 on 1 Coaching | Speaking Part 3 – Celebrations At Restaurants

Welcome back to the final installment with my wonderful student, and in this episode, you’re going to hear me implement structure in her talk. See, the problem with a lot of students is if they fail to use any kind of structure, they end up giving a baseless thesis with sporadic examples that don’t contribute or flow. That’s surely detrimental to your score.


Podcast on Spotify:

Podcast on ListenNote:

Podcast on CastBox:’s-ESL-Podcast-id1251433?country=us




Q & A:



Buzz sprout:

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!


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 188 | Listening | Dealing with Conflict Debate

Welcome back! Today we’re going to listen to a debate about proactive and yielding methods of dealing with conflict. There are also some techniques in regards to listening to confirm predictions and anticipating information to come. This is great for IELTS students. So, let’s go over some methods.

  1. What methods do people use to deal with conflict? Make a list.
  2. Which methods confront conflict and which attempt to prevent it?

Read the list of methods for managing conflict. Predict which may be suggested by a proactive style, and which by a yielding style. You will have to listen to the podcast down below to do the exercise.

__ Offer positive reasons for the other side to change their position.

__ Make the effort to understand your opponents’ viewpoint.

__ Cooperate with your opponents by doing some, but not all, of what they want.

__ Do what the other side wants you to do in order to maintain a good relationship.

__ Avoid situations in which the stronger side is able to dominate.

__ Do nothing and wait for the situation to resolve itself.

Skillful listeners use all the available information to predict information the speaker will give. Anticipating in this way supports the listeners: as the speaker continues, the listeners confirm their predictions and/or identify new themes in the communication.

  • Read through the information available about the lecture or discussion, e.g., handouts, notes, etc.
  • Review titles and visuals and consider their connection to the topic.
  • Anticipate missing information, e.g.:
  1. What kind of information is missing?
  2. What has the speaker not discussed yet?
  3. What stage of the argument is missing?
Proactive Conflict ManagementsYielding Conflict Management
Speaker 1
Cooperative methods are
Results are 2_________
Provides a positive 3_________
for those involved
Difficult due to high levels of
May require training and 5___________

Speaker 4
It is irresponsible to ……
11 ____________
Positive rewards….. 12___________
Speaker 2
Conflict situations often
__________6 if we just wait
Loss of face in a conflict situation can damage 7________

Speaker 3
The proactive style …….
In reality, in most relationships one side 9__________
Stronger sides …….. 10 __________
Fill in the blank (IELTS-style flow chart)


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!


Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 166 | Listening | Surfing and Interpreting Idioms

We’ve got a fascinating podcast today. We’re going to be listening and matching sentence parts to complete a summary of the program. After that, we’re going to listen and interpret idioms, which are fixed expressions that use images and metaphor to describe things.

In saying that, here’s the first part.

  1. The host introduces
  2. The writer identifies
  3. The writer outlines
  4. The host introduces
  5. The surfer describes
  6. The surfer explains
  7. The surfer identifies
  8. The surfer describes
  9. The host introduces
  10. The critic provides

a. how she became interested in the sport.

b. an error of thought.

c. the history of surfing.

d. a surfer.

e. a writer.

f. specific benefits of being a surfer.

g. how surfers feel about the sport.

h. a theory about the popularization of surfing.

i. a critic.

j. features of the equipment used.

Listening to Interpret Idioms

They must have had nerves of steel, given the size of the waves and the design of the boards, which were actually made to be difficult to maneuver.

Idioms can be difficult for language learners because the connections between image and idea may not be immediately obvious. Idioms in the learner’s own language may use different ideas and images. However, despite these differences, it is often possible to deduce the meaning of the expression.

– Think about the context the idiom was used in.

– Consider the actual meaning of words in the idiom.

– Look for connections and relationships with the context.

Skillful 4

Listen to extracts from the interviews and complete the idioms.

  1. Dicing with _______ was an important part of the activity.
  2. The town ________ to bursting with surfers from all over the world.
  3. I loved to watch them and I suppose that’s when the bug __________.
  4. …. only a ________ of surfers ever strike it
  5. ….. but we don’t ________ over spilled _________.
  6. They can ________ an arm and a leg for professionals.
  7. ….using artificial materials was a quantum __________ in surfboard construction.
  8. To be honest, your _______ is as good as mine! Part of it is just the luck of the _______.