Conflicts with coworkers are unfortunately nothing new, and can create serious tension in the workplace. Asking how do you resolve conflict with a coworker is the first step in preventing further tension and strife that can end up affecting the entire office. If you have an existing issue with a coworker, review ways to move past the problem below.

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Have a One-On-One Meeting

Sometimes, the issue simply calls for open communication between two people. The other person might have no idea that they caused hurt feelings or various irritations, and will be welcome to making changes. The issue could also be due to a misunderstanding. For example, say one coworker was offended by an inside joke they overheard and misinterpreted. The “jokester” could approach this individual, saying something like, “Hi, I understand you overhead me joking with one of our other coworkers the other day. The joke was actually about [x and y subject], not the issue you believed it was. However, I am sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable in any way, as it was not my intention. I will be more aware of what jokes I tell in the workplace from now on.”

Being able to resolve the issue together keeps the Human Resources Department out of the situation. It also keeps the problem private, which helps dampen office gossip.

Agree to Speak With a Manager

If speaking one-on-one does not resolve the issue, agreeing to talk with a manager is generally the next best step. The manager might be able to answer the ‘how do you resolve conflict conflict with a coworker’ question immediately, such as having you both talk about the issue at length first before deciding on an effective resolution. For example, say you and a coworker have continually experienced issues working on projects together because you have opposing work ethics. Both of you get the work done, just in completely different ways. If the work suffers because of your differences, it could be time to explore different projects. The manager will recognize this and agree not to put you on the same projects anymore, allowing each of you to exercise your talents and be more productive.

Consider Contacting the Human Resources Department

There are times when the HR department does need to intervene. This typically occurs because of major problems between coworkers, such as issues that fall into the ‘harassment’ and ‘bullying’ categories. However, chronic coworking issues could also call for HR intervention. Getting this department involved can make you and the other party or parties realize the relative pettiness of the issue and that nothing is worth putting their jobs at risk. As a result, everyone will be more mindful about their behavior and work habits. Again, if it comes down to being put on separate projects for the sake of everyone involved, the HR will provide their full support.

Use Outside Mediation

When all other tactics fail to improve the relationship between you and a coworker, external mediation is best. An objective mediator uses their knowledge, experience, and listening skills to determine the core issue and how it can be resolved in a timely manner that suits everyone. This can take one or several sessions, depending on the complexity of the issue. Many people find professional mediation services helpful, because they get to air their problems in a judgment-free zone with an impartial mediator. Being open and honest can mean getting to the root of the issue at a faster rate and subsequently restoring a harmonious work environment relatively quickly.

For more information about how do you resolve conflict with a coworker, contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today!

Kent McGroarty

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