How to Handle Conflict with a Coworker to Keep the Peace and Your Job


When determining how to handle conflict with a coworker, it might be warranted to escalate the issues to the human resources department. In many cases, however, it could be wiser to take a few steps before you involve your manager or HR. For long-term success of the team and your own professional development, implementing some leadership skills to mitigate the conflict should come first and foremost.

How to Handle Conflict with a Coworker

Learning how to handle conflict with a coworker while you’re already in the midst of the conflict can be difficult. Emotions are high, logic is low, and you want a quick fix to make the issue dissipate as quickly as possible. You might start to notice that your conflict is impacting the work of others or the overall morale of your workplace. Nipping conflict in the bud as quickly as possible is an important step. Here are some ways to begin:

Avoid Gossiping

One of the first steps you can take when learning how to deal with conflict in the workplace isn’t necessarily about proactive solutions, but rather ways to not make it worse. Gossiping about your coworker will definitely make things worse, and it will spread the negativity while involving others in your dispute. This also doesn’t make you look very professional in the eyes of those you’re sharing the news with, so start by avoiding any negative rumor-spreading.

Discuss the Issue Face-to-Face

This can be difficult, especially in an age where everything is handled electronically and face-to-face confrontations have become more abnormal. But when you discover how to handle conflict with a coworker in the most effective way possible, it should be in person in a respectful way.

Look for Common Ground

This can be one of the most difficult things to learn about how to deal with conflict in the workplace because the last thing you want to do with someone you’re sparring with is find something you share in common. You probably don’t even think that’s possible right now. But it is! And the sooner you find that common ground, the sooner you can build on it together. This doesn’t mean you need to become best friends, but it means you can collaborate on a solution that works for you both.

Know When You Need to Involve a Third Party

Conflict resolution in the workplace scenarios in which a third party would need to be involved is when you’re unable to mitigate the issues alone. If you try to resolve the issue directly with your colleague and you’re met with aggression or negativity, even though you’ve tried effective communication skills, it might be time to bring in a mediator. Demonstrate effective communication when delivering this information to your higher-ups so that you aren’t blaming the other person but rather displaying that you’ve made positive attempts to quell the issues and haven’t gotten very far. Escalating the issue to managers can increase the tension between you and your colleague but with management involved, they can work with you both on the proper solutions.

If you still need help learning how to handle conflict in the workplace, Pollack Peacebuilding can help. We work with individuals and groups to collaborate on solutions to common interpersonal ruptures, helping work teams build positive foundations toward shared goals. Contact us today for help.

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