I listened to your podcasts on how to manage directs when I am having a conflict with a peer. I was struck by the similarity of issues when I am good friends with or even married to a peer. My wife (Miss High D) and I (Dr. High I) have worked as peers in small institutions for 25 years and for eight years as colleagues on the same project. Inevitably, conflict arises between my wife and one of my directs. The upshot is they don't believe that I will address the problem with my wife.
Through hard knocks, I hit on similar tools to those you outlined in your podcast: talk to the direct to get the facts, strip the emotions, go talk to my wife (usually at work after the second cup of coffee). Come back with concrete answers or solutions. Similar to your discussion about not voicing the conflict with directs, I have found it easier to not voice comments about the ups or downs of our relationships although, I am certain it is obvious. But, I don't want to empower my directs to act on the information.
After going through the steps (I know I haven't gotten to the second podcast), in some cases I find that either the issue was minor or the direct was in the wrong. I need an effective way of saying to my directs "Hey, I understand your concern but I think you need to let this one go. Here's why...." Inevitably, they think I am blowing them off and favoring my wife. The next thing I know, I am answering the phone from the department head over what was a minor problem to begin with.
A more generalized form of this problem, is working on a large project with peer who is a good friend. How do you efficiently let directs know that if it were appropriate, corrective action would happen with the peer, but that isn't called for in this situation?
I know the simple answer is history; if I have a track record of being fair people will credit me with balance. For the people who work with me for a long period, that works. The problem typically is with new employees or when I or the peer have changed jobs.