3 Helpful Steps to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace

Published: August 1, 2022 | Last Updated: August 8, 2023by Kent McGroarty

Workplace conflicts are never pleasant, but they are an inevitable part of any business environment. Thankfully, there are several steps to resolve conflict in the workplace both peacefully and efficiently. Review some suggested steps below to help you enjoy a more peaceful, productive work environment.

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Try to Work Things Out in a Private Setting

Unless the issue requires the Human Resources department’s attention, try to resolve the conflict in a private area, such as an unoccupied conference or meeting room. Remember to breathe deeply to help you maintain a calm demeanor and use “I” statements whenever possible, since “you” statements often sound accusatory.

Attempt to get to the core of the issue quickly to streamline the resolution process. For example, say a coworker thought they overheard you saying negative things about their work ethic and confronted you about it in the office. Once you are in a private setting, ask the individual to tell you what they thought they heard, since the issue could be a simple misunderstanding. After the coworker says what they want to say, you can respond with something like, “I am so sorry you thought I was making negative comments about your work ethic. I think you are a great employee and I was commenting on someone I worked with years ago who has the same first name as yours. It is not my policy to make mean or rude remarks about my current coworkers!”

Involve a Manager if You Cannot Reach an Agreement

There are times when a mutually-beneficial agreement cannot be reached between you and the fellow employee. This is nothing to feel ashamed about, as plenty of people require third parties to resolve work conflicts. If this is the case, agree to speak to a manager at the same time. To keep things professional, say that there is an issue you are both currently dealing with that cannot be resolved without additional help. Ask the manager to reserve a time when you can sit down together and discuss the problem from both sides. It is the manager’s job to remain objective and listen carefully to you and the coworker without passing judgment. Hopefully, the manager can provide a solution that suits both of you. For example, if the issue deals with poor response times on emails, the manager could suggest implementing a response time limit, such as 30 minutes to an hour.

Consider Professional Mediation Services

Perhaps the manager cannot help you reach an agreement or you feel the problem is better off in a professional mediator’s hands. Whatever the case, a pro mediator could provide the perfect solution. These individuals are trained to resolve workplace conflicts minus their own feelings or judgments. They are also completely and totally objective, something a manager might not be able to provide. Since the mediator does not know you or the fellow employee, it is even easier to listen without judgment and provide a variety of solutions. Your manager(s) might decide to schedule professional mediation services regularly in light of the workplace environment. Being able to discuss issues before they become major problems in a calm, objective setting reduces workplace tension and allows everyone to focus on what they are there for: their jobs.

These steps to resolve conflict in the workplace can be tailored to meet your business’s specific needs, or used in conjunction with other conflict resolution tactics, such as team building exercises or work retreats. Feel free to customize your resolution techniques as you see fit.

For more information about resolving conflict in the workplace peacefully and successfully, contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today!

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Kent McGroarty