How to Resolve Conflict With a Coworker and Why It Happens

February 21, 2022by Kent McGroarty

There are times throughout your working life when conflicts with coworkers can arise. There are many reasons for this, all of which can be resolved with time, patience, and understanding. For help on how to resolve conflict with a coworker, use the following guide.

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Common Reasons For Coworker Conflicts

Work ethic clashes can cause issues between two coworkers. For example, you might be all about deadlines, error-free copy, and timely email responses, while your coworker takes their “sweet time” getting back to you. This irritating trait can cause you to feel frustrated and perhaps more likely to make comments that garner defensive reactions.

Other common reasons for coworker conflicts include simple personality clashes. Perhaps you and the coworker in question have opposite personalities in every imaginable way and never seem to agree on anything. Maybe you find the person’s attitude to be rude or immature, and are often distracted by their workplace antics.

Issues can also arise because of management favoritism. For example, maybe the coworker believes you are the “office pet” or you feel this individual has an unfair work advantage for reasons unknown. Perhaps your issue with your coworker is over religious and cultural differences, such as an employee who uses every available opportunity to talk about their religious beliefs.

No matter what the source of the conflict is, remember that you do not have to get along with everyone you work with. Civility and being able to work together is the most important, as your office or any other work environment isn’t about personal issues, it’s about professionalism. If the other party cannot remain professional or engages in any behavior that is unacceptable in the workplace, such as bullying or sexual harrassment, contact your Human Resources Department immediately.

Ways to Solve Conflicts With a Coworker

Assuming the conflict is not harassment-based, there are numerous healthy avenues for resolving it. Learning how to resolve conflict with a coworker can be as simple as finding time to discuss the issue. Focus on staying calm and using “I” statements, since “you” statements often come off as accusatory. For example, you could say something like, “I feel frustrated when I send you a message through our work platform and see that you read it, but do not respond.”

It might be possible to solve the conflict between yourselves and enjoy a more harmonious workplace. If the coworker refuses to engage in a civil discussion or becomes extremely defensive, it’s time to involve management. Let this individual know that you intend to inform management of the issue and that they are free to do the same, which shows that you are being respectful and professional.

Once management knows of the conflict, they can decide how to move forward with it. Perhaps private meetings with the managers where each of you gets to discuss the issue at length is best, or a group meeting with your manager and the coworker’s manager. Try to stay as calm as possible, even if the other person makes inflammatory remarks. Doing so shows your dedication to remaining professional and solving the issue without getting emotional.

Sometimes, professional remediation assistance is best. An experienced mediator remains objective at all times, which helps you and the coworker feel relaxed. The mediator also knows how to work through an exhaustive variety of employee conflicts, and can provide tools for avoiding future issues. Even something as simple as deep breathing techniques can help you, your coworker, and everyone else in your office stay calm, civil, and focused.

For more on how to resolve conflict with a coworker, contact Pollack Peacebuilding today!


Kent McGroarty

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