How to Resolve Workplace Conflict

Conflict in the workplace is something that occurs in almost every business institution. Even though people may not be able to avoid it, there are ways to cope with it and resolve the conflict. Conflict occurs because individuals can be envious, lack proper communication skills, are suffering from anxiety or conflict in their personal life or any number of reasons. It is important to know how to deal with workplace conflict. If two people find out that they cannot resolve the issues themselves, they should involve management or human.

Sometimes having someone involved who is not party to the conflict is a good way to get an unbiased opinion of someone that can really help. Be sure that the person is management or trustworthy to minimize the amount of gossip throughout the office. Listed below are a few ways to deal with conflict in the workplace. Both parties should be sure to keep an open mind when trying to resolve their issues.

1.  Determine the root cause of the conflict- The real issue of the conflict may not be what the argument is really about. Through discussion, make sure that both people know exactly what the conflict is about. People often times take things the wrong way or out of context, they may even exacerbate an issue that really is not there. Taking the time to be honest and discuss exactly why the conflict exist can be extremely beneficial. It may just all be a misunderstanding.

2.   Accept the other persons view of the issue-If you do not listen to the other person’s side of the story or at minimum try to understand why they feel the way that they do, you will not be able to move forward in resolving the issue. Validating the other’s perception does not mean agreeing with them, it means that you are mature enough to understand that other opinions exist other than yours.

3.   Be specific about your issues-Giving broad statements about the way that you are feeling is not helpful. Be sure to be as specific as possible when discussing your conflicts to ensure that nothing is left out. Being specific is also a good way to avoid thinking that someone should have known what you meant, or pulling terms and statements out of thin air hoping that the other person will “catch your drift”. This will ensure that the same actions that caused the initial conflict, will not be repeated down the road.

4.  Use discretion- A workplace that thrives on gossip is a recipe for disaster. Often times, employees will take sides with one another during conflict. This just adds fuel to the fire. This leads to more chance of false statements being made, accusations being thrown at one another, and others getting involved who had absolutely nothing to do with the original issue. Have discreet  one-on-one talks with the other person, or if necessary, management or HR. Establish an understanding before the resolution talks begin that what is said between the parties will be kept confidential.

5.  Communicate, Communicate, Communicate- Good communication can solve or prevent almost any conflict. Being able to communicate with someone in a way that does not offend them, is of the utmost importance. There are ways to communicate professionally without making someone feel inferior or inadequate. Constructive criticism is a good way for co-workers to give their professional opinion about the work habits of someone. Just be sure to give constructive criticism that is meaningful and meant to uplift the person and help them to grow professionally. It is also good to be mindful of communication styles when dealing with someone of a different culture. Their way of communication can be totally different than what you are accustomed to. The last thing that you want to do is cause conflict with someone unintentionally because you were not aware of the culture difference between you to and how things may come across to them.

6.   Agree to Disagree Agree to let each other say everything that is on your minds. Once both parties have been able to express their issues, you should agree to disagree. This just means that you both acknowledge that there is or has been a problem and you have addressed it and will move forward on a positive note. It does not mean that you have to become best buds in the office. It means that you agree to be professional, work well together and avoid causing future confrontations.

7.   Document the action taken. Both parties should agree to have it documented that they attempted to resolve their conflict. This probably should be mandatory if management or HR is involved. Documentation is important, it allows each person to hold each other accountable for their part in resolving their differences. Documentation will also be important if the problem persist and unfortunate legal action arises stemming from this issues.

Putting these steps into action should resolve any workplace conflict. Other steps may be necessary depending on the complexity of the issue.

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