Effective Tools for Mediating Conflict Between Two Employees

Published: February 18, 2022 | Last Updated: December 3, 2023by Valerie Dansereau

In the workplace, diverse people come together from different backgrounds and sooner or later, there are disagreements. Some disputes can be worked through without out-of-control emotions or drama, but other times there is a full-blown personality clash or an issue that two employees don’t seem to be able to work through without intervention. What are some tools for mediating conflict between two employees?

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Establish Ground Rules

Set up a time and place to meet with both employees together. When you meet with them, establish some ground rules upfront. Examples of ground rules that can be effective in successfully mediating conflict are:

  • Take turns speaking
  • No interruptions
  • Listen to each other respectfully
  • Depersonalize comments: attack the problem, not the person

Let participants know that you expect them to sincerely try to understand the other person’s position. Each should be prepared to explain the other’s position if asked. If one of them thinks of something they want to say while the other is talking, they should make a note of it and bring it up when it’s their turn to speak.

Remain Calm

When dealing with either or both individuals who are in conflict, it’s imperative that you stay calm. There’s a good chance their attempts to talk to each other will be accompanied by emotions that are raw. Both parties may feel so passionate about their side of things that they have stopped listening to each other at all. Any sign of out-of-control emotions from you will only exacerbate the situation.

Get All the Facts

Before any progress can be made in mediating conflict between two employees, everyone involved needs to have all the facts. Each of the conflicting individuals should be encouraged to tell their side calmly. As a mediator, you’ll need to listen closely, take notes and avoid choosing sides.  Don’t rush into drawing conclusions. Remain objective as you gather all the facts and repeat back to them what you are hearing from them both.

Problem Solving

Let those that are in conflict know that they need to participate in brainstorming possible solutions. Assigning blame and pointing fingers at other people isn’t helpful. Remaining in conflict is not acceptable. Avoid dwelling on things that happened in the past. Focus on the present and the future and on what can be done to resolve their differences. Have each employee state actions they would like the other to take to resolve their differences. Brainstorm ways that each side can get some of what they want.

Stay Positive

It’s helpful to listen for signs that progress is being made. Express appreciation for their efforts to move past this problem and encourage employees to build on the progress they’ve already made. Try to find a win/win solution where both parties get part of what they’re looking for.

Planning What Happens Next

Let your employees know you have faith in their ability to resolve their differences and set a follow-up meeting to check on progress. Remind them that you’re on the same team working for the good of the company. Failure to resolve differences may mean you’ll have to take disciplinary action or involve outside mediation experts.

Improving Mediation Skills

Different people may respond to different approaches to conflict resolution. Some people may find that interjecting humor may help to lighten the mood during disputes while others may think you’re making light of the situation.

Continue to work on your conflict resolution skills. You may benefit from conflict coaching or conflict resolution training. While you’ll never be perfect at mediating conflict, each challenging situation gives you more experience and a chance to improve your skills.

Learn more about how to manage conflict in the workplace by contacting Pollack Peacebuilding Systems.

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Valerie Dansereau