The ideal working environment is peaceful, but occasional conflict between coworkers is unavoidable. The workplace is often a melting pot of people with widely different personalities who come from widely different backgrounds. It’s unrealistic to expect coworkers to agree all the time, but there are times when conflict snowballs and has to be addressed.
When conflict intensifies, it may end up triggering a hostile work environment. If this happens, there may be a continual feeling of tension which can have a negative impact on productivity. Whether you’re already trying to deal with disputes at work or you’re trying to be prepared for future problems, it’s important to consider how to resolve conflict between coworkers.Free Consultation for Workplace Conflict
Address the Problem As Soon As Possible
Some conflicts work themselves out without intervention, and it can be tempting to try to ignore brewing conflict and hope it goes away. There can be a fine line between intervening too soon and not intervening soon enough, but when it’s clear things are getting worse and not better, it’s important to address the problem as soon as possible. Trying to look the other way may allow tension and hostility to grow rather than resolving itself, and the longer it’s ignored, the more people are likely to be affected.
Listen to Both Sides
There are many possible reasons for conflict. Finding a solution starts with taking the time to find out exactly what’s causing the conflict. One reason conflicts intensify is because people may feel that their position isn’t being heard. They may feel the other party doesn’t understand their side or isn’t taking the time to listen in the first place.
Finding a resolution starts with bringing those who are in conflict together to air their differences. Get together in a private area away from the view of other team members and find out what is causing the conflict. Each person that’s involved is likely to have a different version, and each should be allowed to talk about their concerns or complaints without interruption. Emotional outbursts shouldn’t be allowed.
Be attentive and interested as each person speaks. Practice active listening as the conflict is discussed. This may involve taking notes or asking questions for clarity. Repeat back to each person what you believe they’ve said so that they have a chance to correct any misunderstanding. Remain objective and avoid choosing sides.
Brainstorm Possible Solutions
Once the cause of the conflict has been identified, the next step is to brainstorm possible solutions. Find out what solution each of those in conflict is hoping for and discuss possible ways to compromise. While it may not be possible to completely satisfy either or both of them, see if there’s a way for each to get part of what they want while agreeing to give up part of what they were hoping for. Decide on the next steps that each needs to take to work toward resolving the conflict and schedule a follow-up meeting to see whether progress is being made.
If there doesn’t seem to be a way to come to a solution that’s acceptable to both parties, it may be time to reach out to an outside company that specializes in conflict management and resolution. When someone outside the company acts as a mediator, it’s less likely that staff members will believe that the mediator is choosing sides. Another option is to work with a mentor or coach to improve your conflict resolution skills. Working with a mentor or coach is a great way to get feedback on how well you’re handling conflict and changes that may help.
For conflict resolution training or conflict coaching, reach out to Pollack Peacebuilding Systems.