During stressful seasons, it can feel like a herculean task to manage or avoid conflict and confrontation in the workplace. And yet it is during those seasons that doing so tends to carry the most importance. Workplaces with high stress levels tend to have an increase in emotional reactivity and a decrease in effective, rational resources to handle stress. Understanding how to slow down reactivity so the conflict can be managed is an important step.
Conflict and Confrontation in the Workplace
Slowing down reactivity to conflict and confrontation in the workplace can help reduce its impacts and get everyone reaching a solution more quickly. It can also help introduce new skills to the team that can reduce future conflict. When everyone on board has an understanding of how to handle staff conflict either through training or modeling, tension at work tends to deescalate at a quicker speed. Here are some ways to approach conflict between employees:
Define the Problem
Conflict situations at work can be a cause of stress for anyone. This can create emotional reactivity so intense, it can be difficult to remain calm, objective, and rational. But starting from a rational place is important. Getting clear about what the problem actually is can help everyone involved, including the mediator, have a better understanding of what you’re solving. Without this crucial first step, involved parties may become distracted by intense emotional needs that leave things unclear.
Seek Out Neutrality
There’s a time and place for escalating things to upper management or HR. But if you have a colleague that’s adept at mediating employee conflict, this could be a better resource to use initially. Conflict and confrontation in the workplace can have an impact on everyone involved so you want to ensure it’s being handled from a place of neutrality, allowing both sides to be heard and respected and potentially get what they’re seeking. Workplace conflict coaching can help you gain more skill in this area as remaining neutral about work-related matters may be difficult if you’re clear about the direct impact it has on you.
Lead with Empathy
If you’re involved in or responding to conflict and confrontation in the workplace it may be difficult to tap into empathy underneath the prevailing feelings of self-protection. But in order for everyone involved to reach the rational stage of the conflict, emotions must first be addressed and validated, which requires the skill of empathy. If you’re unable to supply that given your own emotional reactivity, find someone who can, otherwise solving the issue may elude you.
Seek a Collaborative Resolution
Everyone involved in the confrontation should have input on the solution, which requires a mediator who can hold space for everyone’s needs and help find the path to common ground. If attempting these leads to stonewalling or a lack of compromise, it may be helpful to escalate things to someone who can help involved parties get clearer about their responsibilities and options.
Managing conflict and confrontation in the workplace may feel overwhelming, especially during stressful times. If you need some support while tackling this necessary part of leadership, reach out to the experienced professionals who can resolve current conflict and help you and your team reduce it in the future. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.