Resolving a conflict at work usually starts with one important skillset that we may be under-resourced in. Personalities may clash, priorities may misalign, and work styles may create just enough friction for a full-blown conflict to emerge between colleagues. Whether you’re one of the colleagues involved or the manager of these colleagues, there is an important place to begin addressing the issues at hand.
Resolving a Conflict at Work Usually Starts with This
Conflict, especially at work or in otherwise awkward situations may be enticing to ignore or avoid. We may see recurrent miscommunications as something worth walking away from, and we may just tell ourselves to “buck up” when we’re tasked to collaborate with someone we have a trialed history with. But suppressing individual needs or expressions, even at work, can encourage conflict to build over time, maybe sitting below the surface in a seemingly innocuous way until suddenly it can no longer be contained. This is why resolving a conflict at work usually starts with the opposite of silence or avoidance: effective communication.
Why is Communication Important?
Resolving disputes at work is best done as early as possible, which means the avoiding we may do to keep the peace doesn’t actually help us out in the long-run. Common factors affecting conflict in the workplace are often things we can actually predict. Communication is a vital skill to have and exercise especially in your place of work where you may have needs that aren’t shared with others and therefore can be overlooked. If there’s an identifiable issue that can create additional stress for yourself or possibly serve as conflict kindling, it’s actually important that you speak up and express your concerns. This can help ping management or HR to understand a need you have that they didn’t know about. Additionally it can create a source of problem-solving for your issue and, at the very least, will demonstrate your own effectiveness if something does happen that your manager does not see coming.
What Does Effective Communication Look Like?
Effective communication is important when discussing conflict between two employees for a few reasons. One of those reasons is that it will help you maintain a professional image while focusing on proactively reducing distractions and problems at the office.
Effective communication is about objectivity and rationality, not emotions. Emotions will be present and can act as an information source about what’s not working but by the time you’re asking management for help, you want to have a clearer perspective on things. When communicating from an objective perspective, you’ll simply report observations and facts. That might look like “I’ve noticed in the past that when I team up with this particular colleague, we clash and struggle to return to a collaborative place. I’m wondering if I could take on this project solo or work with someone I can be more productive with. Or perhaps you can offer me some tips on how to ensure our work together doesn’t result in conflict.”
Presenting some version of that to a manager can demonstrate your own self-awareness and leadership skills as well as a productive, proactive approach to conflict strategies in the workplace. Perhaps sharing what you’ve done in the past to remain effective without success can also help show your manager that you’re not just looking to get out of something. Rather, you can communicate that this does increase your stress and perhaps the stress of the team around you and that it might not be in the best interest of the organization to keep pairing you two together.
Keep Acceptance Handy
As with any approach to communication, all we can do is effectively express ourselves and let others know about experiences they wouldn’t otherwise know about. We can’t control what reactions other people meet us with so be sure to have a healthy relationship with acceptance should your request for support not be met with the help needed. Additionally remember that you can escalate things to HR if they’re really problematic or hire outside support that can help you become more skilled with managing coworker conflict.
If resolving a conflict at work usually starts with effective communication and you feel under-resourced in that area, get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can diffuse rather than ignite the tension at work. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.