Getting caught up in a workplace dispute is no one’s idea of a good time. Employees working in stressful industries or during stressful times can experience an increase in vulnerabilities that lead to conflict, making it easy to strike. When tensions is high, the human capacity to respond effectively tends to get lower. With that in mind, it’s important for employees and managers alike to maintain a work environment that fosters collaboration, open communication, and self-regulation, all of which can support the goal of preventing conflict in the workplace.
Preventing Conflict in the Workplace
Learning how to resolve conflict with a coworker is an important task for anyone who wants to get ahead or stay sane at the office. You’ve got a job to do and spending time worrying about feelings and communication may not be at the forefront of your mind. But there are certain ways every individual can help reduce arguments at the office so there are fewer conflicts to resolve. Here are a few things every employee can do in service to preventing conflict in the workplace.
1. Communicate with Respect
The way we communicate can sometimes be a bigger spark for dysfunctional conflict in the workplace than the issue or problematic behavior itself. In other words, if someone does something that creates an issue and you go all-in with blame and judgment, the conflict will escalate and it may become personal and get conflated with other issues. If you’re using words like “always” or “never” while in a discussion with someone you’re frustrated with, you might already be off to a problematic start. Avoid generalizations, stay on topic, reflect rather than blame, speak in a kind tone of voice, and make some space to be validating of the other person’s experience. This can help de-escalate conflict before it even begins.
2. Be Positive
A positive company culture tends to require positive people. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be happy all the time, but it means you should avoid complaining often, gossiping about others, and focusing on problems rather than collaborating towards solutions. In addition, do what you can at home and throughout your workday to stay grounded and healthy. Take breaks, get outside, eat well, move when you can, and catch moments where you can enjoy yourself. Self-care is a great tool for avoiding conflict in the workplace.
3. Recognize Personality Clashes
You can get a head start in your conflict resolution by preventing conflict in the workplace to begin with. One way to do this is to be mindful of the variety of humans involved. Just because you’re on the same work team as someone doesn’t mean you’ve got everything in common. Recognize where personalities are too oppositional and avoid those pairings. Some managers think that challenging their employees to work with someone they don’t like is a good idea. This can have merit if executed with employee buy-in, intention, and guidance, but randomly putting together two people who historically don’t get along is an invitation for a fight. Don’t try to change a coworker’s personality and don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole.
Preventing conflict in the workplace takes some work but it can create a more positive and sustainable work environment. Get support from professionals who can help you cultivate a company culture that sets a conflict-free tone. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for you and your team.