Two and a Half Lessons to Avoid Conflict

Posted By on February 26th

This past week, we all witnessed a seriously nasty conflict unravel right before our eyes. The star of CBS’s highest rated comedy, Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen, blew up at his bosses, and in the process, the show appears to be on life support.

Isn’t it the truth that we all saw this conflict coming? Isn’t it also the truth that nobody involved did much to head off this conflict? I believe that the Two and a Half Men debacle has provided us with at least Two and a Half lessons to avoid conflict.


1) Address the source of conflict early on

To avoid conflict, it’s important to encourage a frank and honest discussion about everyone’s interests and concerns before taking any positions. Sheen has a history of turmoil in his life. CBS now believes Sheen’s turmoil affects the show. How did CBS’s producers address that at the beginning? What action did they take after Sheen’s recent arrests and binges? In the public eye, all the producers said was that these are private matters in Sheen’s personal life, and that Sheen is the consummate professional who always shows up for work. If that’s the case, then what has changed now? From what I can see, absolutely nothing, other than they decided this was the time to address the conflict. The truth is they all enabled each other to allow the problems fester.

2) Don’t let greed and money dictate avoidance as the solution to conflict

CBS seemed fine with everything while Sheen lined their pockets with gold. Sheen seemed fine with everything while CBS paid him almost $2 million per episode. Don’t ask, don’t tell, and everyone gets rich. Then Sheen took to the airwaves to publicly call his bosses stupid clowns. CBS responded by cancelling the rest of the season for Two and a Half Men. Sheen responded by saying, “I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power and can’t handle the truth.” Suddenly, the money doesn’t look so rosy anymore.

2.5) A narcissist will always think that they’re the smartest, best looking, most powerful person in the room – so how do you negotiate conflict with a narcissist?

During his recent statements, Sheen claimed that he’s the most important person to the show, that everybody is jealous of his talent and his lifestyle, and that he’s a special person capable of turning off his addictions without any assistance, and certainly without a rehabilitation program. The only person who truly believes all that is the narcissist, and in this case, the narcissist with the addictions. Most conflict negotiation tactics backfire with a person who has a narcissistic personality. Negotiations require a high level of skill and patience. When negotiating with a narcissist, you need to decide whether you have any options to avoid negotiation and whether you (or your representative) have the skills to negotiate with a narcissist.

About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.


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