Personality conflicts within the workplace can happen at any time. The idea that everyone in an office or other work environment is going to like each other on a personal level is simply not realistic, but that does not mean you should get discouraged. Learning how to resolve personality conflicts at work takes time, but can result in a more harmonious professional environment where everyone respects and listens to one another. To help you get started, review tips for ending personality-based issues among employees below.

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Identify the Root Issue

The first step to successfully resolving personality conflicts is to identify what’s causing the problem. Any issue that is based in sexual harassment or bullying is more than a personality issue and needs addressing by your HR department. Depending on the severity of the problem, terminations might be necessary.

Beyond that, many personality conflicts are based on perceived behavior. For example, one employee can refuse to work with another because they feel the person’s attitude is disrespectful and off-putting. However, the “offending party” might not view their behavior as upsetting or disrespectful.

To help resolve behavior-based issues, sit down with both parties and let them explain how the other’s actions and attitude makes them feel. For example, one party might say, “[X person] always interrupts me during meetings, which I do not appreciate.” Once the other person realizes their behavior is offensive, they can take steps to correct it, such as saying, “I am so sorry I have repeatedly interrupted you. I didn’t mean to offend you, and am simply excited about the work. I will be mindful about this issue moving forward; please call me out if I do it again.”

Encourage Delayed Responses & Discourage Gossip

When someone says something another perceives as insulting or insensitive, it is easy to respond quickly out of anger or outrage. Yet, doing so can heighten emotions and make the situation worse. Encourage your team to avoid impulsive, emotion-fueled responses, and to take time to breathe instead. Once they feel calm, they can take steps to resolve the issue, such as speaking with the coworker in private. Employees should also avoid gossiping about people they personally dislike at work, since it can breed contempt for the individual and cause pain when said person finds out. No one likes to be talked about, so stress this point.

Focus on Strengths, Not Personality “Flaws”

Even if someone on your team strongly dislikes a coworker for personal reasons, they can probably still find qualities in the person to admire. For example, the “offender” might always respond to emails quickly, never takes overly-long lunches, and brings in donuts on Fridays for everyone. These professional courtesies and kindnesses should be celebrated and focused on, not perceived personal flaws. No one is perfect, and the employee who has “a problem” with their coworker should remember that. A little empathy goes a long way in terms of how to resolve personality conflicts at work.

Remain Neutral

Your team members do not have to like each other. At all. What they need to do is work together and remain professional. Reminding them of this while maintaining a neutral attitude might be all you need to resolve workplace personality conflicts. If you seem to favor one employee over the other, the tension is likely to increase and cause further problems. Should you feel the issue is best resolved with a professional mediator, find a quality company offering such services. Consider keeping the company on retainer in the event of future issues.

For pro help with coworker conflicts, contact Pollack Peacebuilding today!

Kent McGroarty

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