Handling Conflict at Work: 6 Critical DOs and DON’Ts - Pollack Peace


So you’ve found yourself in a real-life workplace drama and you’re not sure what to do to restore the office to homeostasis. Whether you’re directly in the conflict yourself or exist just outside of it, it can make it hard to get work done. More than that, handling conflict at work can decrease morale and make heading into work every morning feel like an impossible task.

Handling Conflict at Work

Regardless of your proximity to the conflict, there are some things worth doing and some things worth avoiding in order to return to peace while handling conflict at work.

DO: Give the Benefit of the Doubt

Oftentimes we can be quick to personalize someone else’s behavior, especially if it’s someone we haven’t historically worked well with. But assuming malicious intent is just pouring gasoline onto a spark with no positive outcome and no verifiable evidence of even being correct in the first place. Assume your coworkers have the best intentions, even if they don’t always execute them well. This will help you more effectively reach coworker conflict resolution.

DON’T: React Emotionally or Impulsively

If you think your reaction to a conflict may get you in trouble or further escalate the issue, it’s best to pause first. You might want to tell someone off or vent your frustrations or finally let loose all of the stress you’ve been holding onto, but doing that in the midst of conflict won’t actually produce the desired results of employee conflict resolution. Express your emotions effectively outside of the office, but keep your cool when addressing the issue directly. You can expedite employee conflict resolution by avoiding behaviors that will escalate things.

DO: Be Open to Compromise

When navigating how to deal with conflict in the workplace, you’ll need to consider meeting in the middle. Coworker conflict resolution doesn’t typically end with everyone living happily ever after, but in most cases, everyone can get a little victory of their own. Relationship mediation is no easy task but you can make it easier by applying some basic flexibility and openness.

DON’T: Let Tensions Fester

Employee conflict resolution is about immediacy. It can be tempting to wait out conflict and see if it cools on its own, but more often than not during that supposed “cool down” time, things are erupting. What may happen next is a small mistake that turns into an all-out battle. When tensions start to arise, address them immediately. Don’t confuse this for DON’T #1. Emotional reactivity is different than addressing a conflict quickly and directly. In the former, you’re likely to say something you’ll regret. In the latter, you’re utilizing effective and respectful communication skills to get ahead of a problem.

DO: Ask for Help

We get emotional about our time at work for a lot of really good reasons. For one thing, work is where we spend much of our time. It’s where we go when we’re not around our family, friends, or doing the things we’re most passionate about. We also have a lot invested in our jobs and want to do everything possible to keep work-related stress to a minimum. These elements make handling conflict at work that much more difficult. So, getting an outside perspective from someone who isn’t as close to this conflict as you are can help diffuse it more quickly. You don’t necessarily have to reach out to conflict resolution experts, although that can help since asking for support of any kind from a third party can help you maintain some clarity.

DON’T: Stay Stuck on the Problem

It might feel impossible to gracefully navigate conflict, especially at work, but it can be done with a few simple steps. Remaining solution-focused can help you significantly while navigating how to deal with conflict in the workplace. It’s tempting to want to repeat the issue over and over again, but moving into solution-minded approaches can help inspire coworker conflict resolution more quickly.

Handling conflict at work can be stressful and you might not have the energy or clarity it takes to manage it on your own. That’s why the conflict resolution team at Pollack Peacebuilding Solutions can help. We’re not only trained to handle difficult interpersonal situations, we can also provide an unbiased third-party perspective to the tight-knit dispute unfolding on your team. Contact us today!

handling conflict at work



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