5 Ways of Managing Conflict in Organizations

Conflict happens in every kind of organization, and if you hope to maintain a peaceful work environment, it’s a good idea to consider possible ways of dealing with conflict at work. While the specific details of each conflict may vary, there are some types of conflict that are fairly common. Being prepared to handle conflict before it happens can help to nip a stressful situation in the bud and prevent it from worsening. Being proactive about managing conflict can also help avoid declining productivity and plummeting morale. What are some of the ways of managing conflict in organizations?

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Ignore it

Small disputes may work themselves out without intervention, and an important part of managing conflict is knowing when to intervene. Some conflicts are constructive, and constructive conflict can lead to energetic discussions and unique ideas. When conflict is minor or moving in a positive direction, ignoring it may be an acceptable approach.

Ignoring major conflicts is rarely the best solution. As conflicts intensify, other workers are affected. There may be lowered productivity, absenteeism and possibly staff turnover. If you’re in a leadership position, you’re expected to find a way to manage conflict. If you ignore growing conflict, you may lose the respect of other members of your team

Talk it Out and Brainstorm Solutions

Instead of pretending there’s no problem that needs to be addressed, schedule time to talk to everyone that’s involved in a conflict. Each should have the opportunity to tell their side of what’s happening without interruption. Explosive emotions need to be kept under control while those in conflict talk it out and identify the root of the problem.

Practice active listening while each person speaks. Ask questions to provide better clarity, take notes and repeat back the way you understand what each has said.  Brainstorm possible solutions to see if there’s a way to compromise so that each gets at least part of what they want.

Be Decisive About What Happens Next

When people in conflict aren’t making progress at coming up with an acceptable solution, those in leadership may decide to take charge of determining what happens next. Instead of continually trying to come to a compromise that isn’t happening, let those in conflict know what you expect them to do next. This may mean working on different projects rather than attempting to collaborate or it may mean defining a timeline that differences have to be worked out. Let them know there will be a follow-up meeting to gauge progress, but if conflict isn’t resolved, there may be consequences such as intervention by HR and possible disciplinary action.

Consider Conflict Resolution Services

When you’re having difficulty restoring peace in the workplace, another option for managing conflict is by reaching out to experts in the field of conflict resolution. By bringing in an impartial third party trained in diffusing explosive situations, it may be possible to work through conflict that hasn’t been resolved using other approaches. A variety of services may be offered by experts in this field such as mediation, facilitated dialogue and conflict coaching.

Prevent Conflict Before It Happens

One of the best ways to manage conflict in organizations is to prevent it before it happens. Create an environment that encourages teamwork and collaboration. Have regular team-building exercises to improve the relationships between members of your team.

Ongoing training in conflict resolution can benefit workers at all levels of an organization This includes making sure that everyone has access to information on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Staff should be frequently reminded that when conflict happens, it’s important to focus on problems, not personalities.

To address a current conflict or to explore training opportunities in conflict resolution or prevention, reach out to Pollack Peacebuilding Systems.


Valerie Dansereau


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