5 Practical Tips for Mediating Workplace Conflict

Mediating workplace conflict issues is never easy. However, with the right tools and communication skills, it’s possible for the mediation to go smoothly and prevent further conflict. To help enhance your mediation skills, review the following tips.

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Step In Before Things Get Too Heated

Intense conversations between employees can get heated quickly without timely intervention. If you notice a conversation escalating, step in and separate the employees. The issue can be resolved at a later time when tension between the individuals has lowered and both are relatively calm. Simply say as much in a quiet, calm voice. You can also bring the team members into your office to discuss an optimal time for resolving the issue.

Obtain Information From Both Sides

To end a workplace conflict peacefully and successfully, you need all the information. Both parties must provide as much info about the issue as possible to help you make an informed decision. Encourage the employees to be forthcoming during separate meetings, since collecting information from both at the same time can result in various accusations and inflamed responses. This is especially true if you collect info about the conflict on the same day of the incident or the day after.

If there were workplace conflict witnesses, call them in as well. What they heard and saw provides extra context, which is essential if the stories from the two employees vary greatly.

Look For Common Ground

Once you have heard both sides and gathered information from witnesses, you can identify common ground that the employees agree on. Perhaps they realize that they were both out of line or misunderstood the other’s intentions. You can also ask the employees what steps they can take to avoid further discord, as well as what steps they would like the other team member to take as well. Perhaps being more responsive to emails is a key point, or actively listening during team meetings instead of interrupting.

Ensure Everything Stays Offline

No matter where you are when it comes to mediating workplace conflict, the issue must stay offline. If one or both employees post about the conflict on social media, they are damaging the company’s reputation. Social media rants also typically lead to additional heated exchanges, because the other party feels even more attacked. It’s a good idea to have a “no social media” rule about the workplace and work conflicts, and to remind employees of this regulation before mediation gets underway. All criticism, whether social media-related or otherwise, should be prohibited to streamline the mediation process.

What to Do When the Issue is Seemingly Unsolvable

If you cannot reach an agreement with the employees despite your best objective efforts, further action must be taken. A professional mediator is often the key to such situations, since these individuals are impartial third parties trained to deal with workplace conflicts. A meeting with a professional mediator helps the employees speak more openly and honestly, which can finally resolve the issue. Depending on the nature of the conflict and how resolving it has progressed so far, it might be best for the mediator to speak with the team members alone. Mediators also provide tools and resources for preventing ongoing problems.

Should one or both sides refuse to compromise and work through the issue, disciplinary measures must be taken. This is not ideal, but sometimes necessary to emphasize the severity of the issue and your dedication to maintaining a harmonious work environment. Once your employees fully understand this, they might be more willing to compromise.

For more about mediating workplace conflict, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today!

Kent McGroarty


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