Conflict in the workplace is unfortunately inevitable due to issues such as clashing personalities and wildly-different ideas. However, there are many effective ways of dealing with conflicts that help everyone in the workplace enjoy a healthier, more productive environment. Below are examples of conflict resolution scenarios to inspire your efforts.

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Giving Employees the Tools

A first (perhaps ideal) course of action is to allow employees to manage conflicts with each other, without a boss’ intervention. However, in order to have the confidence and competence to effectively manage their own conflicts, team members typically need at least some basic training in conflict management skills. Topics such as how to have difficult conversations, how to give effective feedback, how to receive feedback constructively are all important topics for conflict resolution training for employees.

One-On-One Meetings

When employees do not have the confidence to or ability to handle a conflict on their own, a supervisor may need to meet with team members in conflict individually. In this case, each employee gets to discuss their side of the story in detail. The manager can then hopefully help each team member see the perspective of the individual they are in conflict with. A typical scene could include the following:

Manager: I understand that you and [x employee] got in an argument the other day. Can you tell me more about that, please?

Employee: I was upset about how our last project went over, and we exchanged heated words. Over the last few days, I have realized that my actions were a bit extreme and it was natural for [x employee] to defend themselves. I’ve felt rather embarrassed that our spat was in front of fellow team members and would be happy to discuss the issue with [said employee] to avoid further conflict and strife. Moving forward, I will ensure any problems I have with team members are dealt with privately and will only alert management if I think it’s absolutely necessary.

Active Listening in a Group Setting

Group meetings can prove fruitful in regards to conflict resolution, because they allow everyone to focus on their active listening skills and truly hear what their fellow employees have to say. They might feel more empathy for their coworkers as a result, and gain new perspectives that help prevent further conflict. A group meeting of those in conflict, facilitated by an experienced supervisor, might go something like:

Manager: Okay, now that everyone has had a chance to speak about what happened the other day, is there anything anyone would like to add?

First Employee: I fully understand what caused the riff on Tuesday, and see how preventable it was.

Second Employee: I’m going to make certain I really listen to my team members from now on instead of partially hearing them and jumping to my own conclusions.

Third Employee: I had no idea about [x employee’s] personal issue that temporarily affected their work performance. I will strive to remember that everyone is going through something, whether big or small, and that we’re all in this together.

Professional Mediation

Examples of conflict resolution scenarios frequently include professional mediators, since there are times when managers do not feel they have the adequate skills to mediate the situation, and therefore hiring a professional mediator may be the only way to move past the issue. A mediation session could include:

Mediator: Everyone will have their chance to talk. Please do not interrupt and keep in mind that we are here to empathize and understand, not judge and condemn.

First Employee: I need [x employee] to understand that I wasn’t coming at them or trying to be combative. I know I can come off a bit harsh at times, and I am trying to be as mindful of that as possible moving forward.

Second Employee: I completely understand that now, and I will make a point not to take things so personally. Tone does not always indicate meaning.

Mediator: This is a great start. Is there anything else you both would like to add?

First Employee: Only that I really enjoy working with [x employee] and I want them to know they have my support at all times. I am here to help.

Second Employee: I truly appreciate that, and same to you! I look forward to working with you in the immediate future.

For more examples of conflict resolution scenarios, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today!

Kent McGroarty

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