Conflict Within the Workplace: Why Assertive Communication is Important

How would you handle conflict at work? Are you conflict avoidant or do you lean in a little too easily? If you’re more of the avoidant type, you’ve come to the right place. Avoiding conflict can actually lead to long-term conflict as issues accumulate, needs continue not to be met, resentment builds and so does the tension in the air. Asserting your needs sooner rather than later can actually lower instances of conflict within the workplace.

Conflict Within the Workplace

We’ve talked in this space about the need for assertive communication and how speaking up for what you want and need proactively can help release the tension that can build toward conflict within the workplace. That can be scary for anyone who tends to keep to themselves or even suffer in silence. Here are some easy ways to assert yourself while taking care of the part of yourself that feels hesitant to do so.

Remain Objective

When describing what you’ve identified to be the issue, speak fairly and objectively. Consider your needs and perspectives as well as the needs and perspectives of those around you by avoiding blaming language or beginning the conversation in a heightened emotional place. Make sure you have facts and data to back up your reflections of the problem to secure your objectivity. This will make it easier for others involved to remain engaged in searching for the solution rather than retreating defensively and sparking conflict within the workplace.

Don’t Apologize

Present your ideas with confidence and don’t feel you have to apologize for asserting your needs. Some folks avoid assertive communication because they feel unworthy of having their voice heard or their needs met. This tends to only result in that build-up of tension that can be kindling in most coworker conflict scenarios. Make sure you’re standing up for yourself and not letting the bigger picture make you feel like you have to remain small and silent.

Remember Your Values

Despite how it may feel, handling conflict in the workplace does not come naturally for everyone. When we engage in tough conversations, it’s common for us to either rigidly assert our values or abandon them entirely. Neither of these is helpful. Be flexible but stand by your values. What are the things you’re not willing to do? What are behaviors you’d rather not see in yourself? Don’t compromise your values unless you see a way for there to be a collaborative and mutual benefit.

Avoid Exaggeration

One thing that can help you master how to resolve interpersonal conflict at work is to stick to the facts and avoid embellishing or making judgmental statements. Again, this will support your objectivity which will make it more about finding the solution and less about fueling the problem. Rather than saying “he was rude,” say “he kept interrupting others while they were speaking.” The former adds a qualifying judgment while the latter describes the factual events. This approach can not only help the immediate conflict but also contribute to a company culture that avoids attacks and focuses more on collaboration.

If you’re in search of support while handling conflict within the workplace, reach out to the neutral and experienced professionals who can help create positive change. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Three women at desk in a discussion symbolizing assertive communication