Everyone, at one time or another, has faced some kind of conflict while on the job. Whether it’s with management, customers, vendors, or your colleagues, working in stressful conditions with different personalities chasing different agendas is all the tinder the fire usually needs. Confronting conflict in the workplace can be challenging because professional responsibilities and livelihoods put a lot on the line. You may want to assert yourself or address emotions that come up in the process, but how do you know if doing so will be an effective strategy or something that will send you to HR?
Confronting Conflict in the Workplace
Confronting conflict in the workplace takes a certain kind of finesse. But you don’t quite need to reinvent any wheels in the process. There are a few steps to resolve conflict at work that can greatly help:
1. Set Clear Expectations
Ambiguity has no place at the office. In fact, it’s a major cause of workplace stress and organizational conflict. Remove this element for yourself and those you work with by setting clear expectations. Do so within appropriate professional bounds, and with respect to everyone’s autonomy, but if you’re collaborating on a project or are waiting on another team to finish their work so you can meet their deadline, let the expectations be known.
2. Risk Overcommunication
Sometimes we feel certain things aren’t worth communicating about because they ought to be assumed. We know workplaces are often riddled with too many meetings and emails that don’t serve any purpose. But when you’re collaborating with a team member on a project and you rely on each other to stay the course, err on the side of overcommunication. This can help remove any assumptions that lead to misunderstandings, false expectations, or frustration, and can help decrease instances of you needing to confront conflict in the workplace.
3. Be Open to Feedback
You’ve set your expectations and overcommunicated your needs, now you need to open yourself up to the expectations and needs of others. This means not taking things personally, not jumping to conclusions about motive or agenda, and not letting your emotions get in the way of how you receive feedback from others. Many times the need for solving employee conflict comes from emotional reactivity to feedback. Evaluations about your work may not always feel good, but it’s most often not meant to hurt you.
4. Disagree Respectfully
So let’s say your communication skills haven’t resulted in total peace in the office and some disagreements start breaking out. Remain respectful and always validate others to help eliminate the intensity of confronting conflict in the workplace. This will help avoid escalating the conflict into something bigger. If you find yourself needing to manage conflict among employees or peers where you’re not involved, validating the experience of others is still an important step.
Learning how to handle a conflict situation at work can be difficult, especially if you’ve got a stake in the results. You don’t have to go it alone. Instead, Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get consulting and coaching support that can help increase your skill-set and decrease your work stress.