Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace can arise from something as small as who ate someone else’s lunch, to a business deal gone wrong due to someone’s inefficiency. Whether you’ve found yourself in an argument with a coworker over a rude comment made by your superior or you just aren’t getting along with the woman in the cubicle next to you, there are plenty of basic tips to help resolve and manage different forms of conflict at work.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Drama in the workplace can be very frustrating, especially when a handful of people get involved. Word always spreads like wildfire, and it is not uncommon for a minor squabble between coworkers to make its way to the boss. Before you know it, the disagreement may be brought to the attention of your manager.

Here are some tips to help you catch the conflict early, before it evolves into something that may require disciplinary action.

1. What’s the Problem?

The first tip for resolving conflicts is to identify the problem. Be polite yet assertive and address the problem right away. Be clear and communicate effectively by being very specific. Identifying the problem will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings.

2. Be a Good Listener

Although it may be tempting, try to refrain from focusing on your defense. While it is perfectly acceptable to speak your mind and say what you need to say, you need to do so in a manner that allows others to voice their thoughts as well. Make sure you listen to what the other person has to say and try to be objective and understand where they are coming from. Good listening requires you to think critically about what the other person has to say, and it also requires empathy and the ability to consider and accept criticism.

3. Propose a Solution

Sometimes talking things over and allowing everyone to share their point of view isn’t enough to resolve disagreements at work. When there seems to be no hope for compromise, then try to create some. Do this by assessing and communicating common goals. What result would everyone be happy with? Identify what you do agree on, even if it has to do with the integrity of the company or the company’s mission. Try to find common ground and agree to disagree by setting goals for change.

4. Clear the Air

Agreeing to disagree does not mean walking away from the conflict with no closure or solution. Be sure to summarize everything that was discussed and confirm any plan of action that was agreed upon. Instead of holding a grudge or focusing on what you may still disagree on, instead place emphasis on your long-term goals and what you intend to work on. Following these basic tips will help you better manage conflict in the workplace.