4 Helpful Tips for Conflict resolution in the Workplace

Wherever there are people, there’s bound to be conflict at some point. The workplace is made up of a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds who are bound to butt heads from time to time. Some conflict is momentary and blows over quickly. Disagreements sometimes lead to innovative thinking and lively discussions. But when conflicts are escalating and affecting others in the workplace, it has to be addressed.

Ignoring conflict leads to reduced productivity, low morale and an uncomfortable work environment. Before conflict becomes intolerable, it’s time to get involved. Consider the following tips for conflict resolution in the workplace.

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Initiate a Private Discussion

When it becomes clear that things aren’t getting better, find a time and place to have a conversation with the individuals who are having a dispute. It needs to be a private location where other team members aren’t able to interrupt or attempt to get involved. Set ground rules for the meeting such as no emotional outbursts, rudeness or placing blame.

Control your own emotions during this discussion. Even if it seems clear one party is right and the other is wrong, avoid showing favoritism or appearing to take sides.

Clarify the Problem

Make sure everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities. When roles aren’t clearly defined, there may be misunderstandings about who is doing what. Find out the root of the problem.  Each party should have the opportunity to tell their side of what triggered the conflict without interruption.

Practice active listening during this meeting, which means taking notes and asking questions so that there’s no misunderstanding. Give encouragement to each person to show that you’re listening. Pay attention to body language and facial expressions. Repeat back to them what you’ve heard and how you understand what has happened. This gives them an opportunity to correct you if you’ve misinterpreted anything that was said.

Brainstorm Solutions

Let them know that not coming up with a solution isn’t an option. As team members, they need to work through their differences since they will continue to have to work together going forward. Discuss what solutions they have already tried and why they failed to resolve the problem.

Ask each of them what they’d like to see happen. Brainstorm possible solutions and try to come up with a compromise in which each of them gets part of what they want. Schedule a follow-up meeting to see if progress has been made.

Know When to Get Outside Help

It’s important to recognize that some conflicts aren’t being resolved despite your best efforts. Some staff members may be uncooperative. They may refuse to accept a solution that’s not exactly what they want. Some may accuse you of favoritism and may feel their side wasn’t seriously considered. You may need to involve your HR department if you’re dealing with staff members who are difficult or disruptive.

Another option is to hire an outside company that specializes in conflict resolution. Specialists in this area are trained in conflict intervention, mediation and facilitating discussions to find a workable path forward and to help restore peace.

Learning from Each Conflict

Workplace conflict isn’t something to be feared. There are many different types of people and a wide variety of conflict scenarios. Even when things don’t go as well as you hope, remember that each situation gives you a new opportunity to learn new leadership skills or to strengthen your skills in mediation or communication. The more you’re able to practice conflict resolution, the better you’ll be at dealing with future conflicts.

Reach out to Pollack Peacebuilding Systems for conflict resolution services or conflict coaching or training.

 

Valerie Dansereau

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