Resolving Coworker Conflict: What Not to Do - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

July 23, 2021by Vanessa Rose

When resolving coworker conflict, there are a lot of effective steps that can be taken to minimize tensions and move collaboratively toward solutions. But oftentimes before we find the right road to take, we may make a few wrong turns. Fueled by the emotional intensity that conflict can bring, we sometimes find ourselves being more reactive and escalating conflict rather than diffusing it.

Resolving Coworker Conflict

Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) says that we all have a rational mind and an emotional mind. When we’re too much in one or the other, we tend to be operating less effectively. But DBT also says where the two minds overlap and can inform each other is called Wise Mind, and from this place, many good decisions can be made. Conflict doesn’t always give us time to reach Wise Mind and instead we may be stuck in an emotional place where rationality can’t penetrate. With that in mind, here are some common things to avoid when resolving coworker conflict.

Letting Your Emotions Take Over

Conflict can bring up feelings of defensiveness, fear, anger, sadness, and anxiety. None of those emotions are known for being a grounded place from which to make important decisions. While those emotions are valid, managing them so that your rational mind can also become part of the conversation is critical to achieve resolution at work.

Perhaps you need to step outside for a few minutes, take a walk, make a call to a friend, splash some cold water on your face, or reach out for more intense support through family, a therapist, or a conflict expert. Either way, don’t react from purely an emotional place. This tends to escalate conflict and you may end up responding in a way you later regret.

Giving Away All the Blame

It’s unusual for conflict to be entirely the fault of one party, which includes any conflict situation in workplace environments. Oftentimes we all contribute in some way, even if that way was miscommunicating or misunderstanding. When the conflict arises, it’s important to communicate effectively which, if viewed on a scale from passive to aggressive would fall somewhere neatly in the middle.

Assertive communication allows you to speak up, get needs met, and express things that are causing issues without being aggressive and pinning all the blame on one person in particular. Assertive communication is also more effective than passive communication in which you may not say much of anything at all but assume your implications of needs are understood by others. Neither aggressive nor passive communication positively effective conflict, and owning your part in where things went wrong can foster collaboration toward solutions.

Ignoring the Problem

Typical conflicts in the workplace require timely responses. While ignoring a problem may be a temping approach to let things blow over, it may actually result in things flaring up more intensely. Address the conflict quickly but gently in order to start making strides toward resolution. If you feel ill-equipped for such work, focus on obtaining training or conflict coaching from experts that can help you navigate conflict with positive outcomes.

Resolving coworker conflict can be stressful. But you don’t have to navigate it alone. Get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can guide you to more effective strategies for conflict resolution and reduction. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Vanessa Rose

Vanessa is a licensed psychotherapist and writer living in Los Angeles. When not on a mission for inner peace and conflict resolution, she enjoys making art, visiting the beach, and taking dog portraits. Always curious about self-improvement and emotional expansion, Vanessa also manages her own website which explores the unconscious and archetypal influences on how we eat, express, and relate.

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