Dealing with conflict at work is very few people’s idea of a good time. Most of us come to work to get a job done and when coworkers are disputing over something big or small, it can put a hiccup in business operations, negatively impact morale, and increase overall stress levels at the office. This may mean that colleague interventions are needed before things escalate to management. But if you’re feeling not quite up to the task, you may benefit from learning some new skills.
Dealing with Conflict at Work
When you find yourself dealing with conflict at work, you may need to address the importance and impact of your involvement. Oftentimes colleagues are not willing to intervene in coworker disputes and wait for management to take the lead. However, management sometimes doesn’t quite see the day-to-day, minute-to-minute interactions of the team, so they may not have the full scope of the issues impacting their staff. Many employees are also reluctant to involve management out of fear of punitive action. So it may be helpful for you, as a team member, to interfere, and making sure you’re doing so effectively can make or break the mission. Here are some places to start:
1. Learn Your Style
Before conflict with a coworker arises, it can be in your best interest to understand your conflict resolution style. Do you approach uncomfortable situations head-on? Do you avoid them at all costs? Do you involve yourself in the dispute by taking sides? It can be helpful to ask yourself: how do you deal with conflict in the workplace? Having this awareness can improve your reactivity when dealing with conflict at work and give you some insight into where you may need to improve your approach.
2. Step in Early On
If you’re someone who takes the approach of avoiding conflict in the workplace altogether, understand that there are benefits and drawbacks to this. Being careful not to gossip or take sides may prevent escalation of the issues present between two disputing colleagues. However, when conflict isn’t addressed at all, it tends to only build over time. So while it might seem uncomfortable to get involved, if you can do so with an unbiased, validating, and solution-focused approach for the sake of resolution, it may, in fact, be better for everyone involved to lean in rather than avoid. Don’t go it alone, especially if you’re not in a leadership position. Workplace conflict coaching can help you build up the necessary skills to address this effectively.
3. Know When to Escalate
Learning how to deal with coworker conflict isn’t something we typically have the resources for coming into a staff role. If your colleagues are in ongoing conflict and it’s impacting the culture, morale, and productivity of bystanders, it may be time to bring in a manager. Actively tending to Workplace conflict resolution is not everyone’s responsibility, so know when it’s time to tag in a member of leadership before things get worse.
If you’re looking for ways to sharpen your conflict management skills and enhance what you can bring to a leadership role, contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today. Our conflict resolution professionals can inspire the right approaches when dealing with conflict at work.