How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace

Workplace conflicts are inevitable. People working together in a single space, under pressure, will, of course, experience conflict. However, how you choose to deal with these issues will determine the success of your workplace. Instead of aiming to prevent contention between coworkers, work towards addressing, managing, and resolving any inter-office clashes. Below, we have listed a few different ways to do just that!

Identify the Source of the Conflict
Start by acknowledging that the situation exists and search out the cause of the problem. What is the reason for the conflict? Different personality types? Ill-defined hierarchies? Homing in on the root of the issue will allow you to be better equipped to mediate the coming conversations. This is also a good opportunity to identify potential imbalances that may develop into future problems.

Once you have determined the source of conflict, meet separately with the involved parties and hear their side of the story. Ask questions until you have a full understanding of the matter.

Create a Safe Space
It is important that you are promoting a healthy workplace culture, one with a clear definition of what is acceptable behaviour. A lack of this can create a breeding ground of conflict. When it comes to specific instances of employee strife, it is a good idea to have a mediated conversation in a neutral location, away from the place of the conflict. You may need to set some ground rules for the conversation so that everyone can articulate their thoughts. Let the individuals express their feelings before beginning the resolution process. Most of the time, people need a chance to vent before they can begin to compromise.

Find a Common Goal on Common Ground
Through your conversation, you must agree on the problem, what needs to be resolved, and what procedures should be followed to achieve the resolution. Discuss the needs on all sides, pinpointing the things each party will need to do or change in order to appease the other. Brainstorm together ways to achieve a resolution and create a clear plan which outlines specific steps that will be taken. It is also a good idea to talk about how you will manage interactions in the interim, so as not to create any further conflicts.

Follow up
Never presume a conflict is totally resolved. You need to follow up! Once you have made a plan regarding the resolution of the conflict, draw up a similar plan for yourself, mapping out how you will follow up with the situation. Inform all involved parties on your intentions to remain invested in a successful solution to the issue. Schedule a meeting in a couple weeks to follow up and leave the door open for more communication if needed.

Use the conflict as an opportunity to take preventive steps for future conflicts. What lessons are there to learn from this issue? How will you handle similar issues or a resurfaced conflict? Knowing what you know now, try to flag any future disagreements between employees and get ahead of any previously unseen problems.

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