When you work with a team, conflict is bound to happen at some point. Whether it's a disagreement with a coworker, a difference of opinion with your boss, or a miscommunication with a team member, it's essential to know how to handle these situations professionally and constructively. Learning conflict resolution in the workplace will go a long way in having a productive career.
Identify the Source of Conflict
The first step in handling conflict is to identify the source of the problem. Understanding what is causing the conflict is essential before trying to resolve it. Take some time to reflect on the situation and determine what is causing the issue. Is it a misunderstanding, a difference in priorities, or a personality clash?
Once you have identified the source of the conflict, you can start to address it more effectively. Think about how serious the problem is, who is involved, and if there are simple steps you can take to avoid another problem.
Find a Time To Chat in Private
If you have to address conflict in the workplace, finding time to talk with the other person in private is crucial. Doing this face-to-face is best, as emails or texts can easily be misinterpreted. Choose a time when both of you are calm and not rushed. Avoid discussing the conflict in a public setting since this can be uncomfortable for both parties and could escalate the situation.
Actively Listening & Let Everyone Speak
During the conversation, actively listen to the other person and let them speak. Avoid interrupting them or getting defensive. Hear them out and try to understand their perspective. Once they have finished speaking, repeat what you heard to ensure you understand their point of view.
It's also important to let everyone involved speak and express their feelings. This creates a safe space for communication and helps prevent the situation from worsening.
Find a Common Goal & Solution
When both parties have expressed their perspectives, finding a common goal and solution is essential. This could be seeing a compromise, coming up with a new approach, or agreeing to disagree. Focus on finding a solution that works for both parties rather than trying to "win" the argument. Keep the conversation constructive and positive, and try to find common ground.
When you can't find a compromise that works, look into ways to change how you work with the person you have a conflict with. Ask if there are better ways to communicate that will reduce friction in the future and embrace those options. Above all, stay respectful even if the situation is tense.
Create Preventative Strategies for the Future
Once a solution has been reached, it's vital to create preventative strategies for the future. This could involve creating new policies or procedures, establishing more precise communication channels, or setting up regular check-ins to ensure everyone is on the same page. The goal is to prevent the conflict from happening again in the future.
What Not To Do When Resolving Conflict in the Workplace
These steps are critical if you want a positive outcome, but there are also things you should avoid. These are actions that tend to make things worse rather than better.
Avoiding the conflict altogether: Ignoring and hoping it will go away is not a productive way to handle the situation. A conflict that is left unresolved can fester and grow, making the problem worse.
Reacting with anger or aggression: Becoming aggressive during a conflict will only escalate the situation. It's essential to remain calm and professional, even if the other party is not. Yelling, name-calling, or threatening behavior never help.
Blaming or attacking the other party: Pointing fingers will not lead to a productive resolution. Attacking the other party will only create defensiveness and make it harder to find a solution.
Making assumptions: Assuming you know the other party's intentions or motivations can lead to misunderstandings and make the conflict worse. It's essential to listen to the other party's perspective and try to understand their point of view. Making assumptions can also lead to stereotyping and bias, creating more conflict.
Gossiping or involving others in the conflict: Keeping the dispute between the parties involved and working to find a solution is essential. Involving others can lead to rumors and further tension between coworkers.
Learn Conflict Resolution in the Workplace and Have a More Productive Career
Most jobs require people to work with others. It's not always easy, but you need your colleagues to support you as you try to do your best job. When there is a conflict in the workplace, it can hurt productivity and harm the company. Use these tips to resolve those issues so you can focus on what matters.