4 Ways to Deal With Conflict at Work

Conflict in the workplace is unfortunately nothing new, even in professional environments that are peaceful the majority of the time. As with any issue, ignoring the conflict won’t make it go away. Instead, it creates more tension. To help you maintain a healthy workplace vibe, review ways to deal with conflict at work here.

Free Consultation for Workplace Conflict

Don’t React, Listen

It is normal to feel defensive when a coworker or anyone else is “coming at you.” However, emotional reactions rarely help and typically cause both parties to make even more inflammatory comments. Instead of getting angrier and angrier, which raises your blood pressure and makes you upset, focus on breathing deeply and listening to what the other person has to say. Listening makes it clear to the other person that you are not going to react emotionally, which helps them calm down. It also shows that you respect that they are upset and want to resolve the problem instead of causing further tension and strife.

After a few minutes of active listening, ask the coworker to clarify what the issue is, assuming you still don’t know. The problem could be as simple as a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

Find a Private Space to Chat

Airing business in front of the whole team is not the most professional thing in the world. To avoid feeling embarrassed later on, ask if you can speak with the coworker in a private setting where you both feel comfortable, such as a conference room away from the main office. If the coworker does not want to do this, ask if you can bring a manager along to mediate the situation. Having someone else present might be the key to ensuring the person’s comfort. Once you are in said setting, continue with active listening.

It also helps to use “I” statements, such as “I understand that my email response on [x day] upset you, and I apologize for the distress. It was not my intention to offend anyone, and I will be more aware of my email wording from now on. If you have any issues with me in the future, please feel free to speak with me directly. I will be happy to meet with you in a setting like this.”

Launch an Investigation

Sometimes, the best ways to deal with conflict at work go beyond active listening and private meetings. If you both realize the issue is bigger than you thought and involves more people, such as an unscrupulous pair of managers, visiting the HR department might be the best next step. The HR team will launch an official investigation and make the appropriate company changes in light of the evidence, such as laying off or firing a manager who instigates problems between coworkers for their own amusement. Official HR investigations also provide peace of mind, because you know the issue is being thoroughly researched and positive changes are the likely outcome.

Determine Each Party’s Responsibilities

Once you have resolved the conflict, have a discussion about what both of you can do to prevent further problems. For example, perhaps weekly team meetings where everyone “checks in” and ensures there are no issues to discuss is the right course. Maybe both of you agree not to have arguments in front of the team anymore and instead schedule private meetings to resolve conflicts. No matter what you agree to, it is important that both of you feel secure and happy with the resolution, and willing to do your part to maintain a healthy work environment.

For more ways to deal with conflict at work, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Solutions today!

Kent McGroarty

Copyright © 2022 Pollack Peacebuilding Systems