How to resolve conflicts in the workplace

Conflicts are always bound to happen in our lives and with the workplace being a naturally stressful environment, personal conflicts between co-workers can be both a cause and product of this stress.  But if we allow these conflicts to continue they will only further damage the work environment.

So if you need to solve the problem and make your office a place where you enjoy being in, then you first need to understand the issue and take positive action. Here are tips for effectively handling conflict whether your conflict is with staff, peers, or management.

Do not avoid the conflict, hoping it will go away
The conflict will not go away even if the conflict appears to have been superficially put to rest; it will come up whenever stress increases or a new disagreement occurs. An unresolved conflict or interpersonal disagreement festers just under the surface in your work environment. It burbles to the surface whenever enabled, and always at the worst possible moment.

Approach it with an open mind
Different people have different perceptions, and solving workplace conflicts requires finding a common ground, not waiting until one person goes to the other. “Try to understand the other person’s point of view and how he or she arrived at it.

Consider what might have caused the conflict
There is always two sides to a story so before you try to resolve a problem, be sure you have examined the roots of the conflict objectively and thoroughly. Avoid the temptation to jump to conclusions regarding fault or to “take sides”. Be honest about your own feelings, too. Take an objective look at yourself and determine what you did or said to contribute to the situation. Try to place yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider how the situation could be handled differently in the future.

Try to depersonalize conflicts
Instead of a “me versus you” mentality, visualize an “us versus the problem” scenario. This is not only a more professional attitude, but it will also improve productivity and is in the best interests of the company.

Be respectful of other people’s differences
There is a lot of diversity in the workplace, today more than ever, and what is acceptable to one person may be offensive to another. Ask your co-worker if you did anything to upset him or her, Communicate your willingness to talk about this and see if together you can solve the issue.

Listen actively
Before jumping to conclusions, sit down with the person with whom you’re in conflict and try to understand the issue fully. During the conversation, make sure you acknowledge his or her feelings and paraphrase their opinion back to them to enhance your comprehension.

Be mindful of your language
It is important to avoid assigning blame to the person you’re speaking with, and taking note of the words you use will help you avoid falling into this trap. Try to use “I” statements that explain how you feel, and give examples of why you feel that way.

Be sure the problem is resolved
The problem isn’t properly resolved until both parties in the argument feel better about the situation. Set guidelines for how to handle a similar situation in the future. “You might say something like, ‘Let’s commit that you will let me know right away if I do something that upsets you, and when you bring it to my attention, we will stop what we are doing to address it.”


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