6 Steps to Resolving Conflicts at Work

White dove of peace conflict resolution ccbizadivors.com

Don’t know about you, but I’ve been blessed with an almost perfectly peaceful career. I’ve worked with hundreds of people who interacted with respect, professionalism, and strived to be a team. Most disagreements were about finding the best way to complete a project or reach a goal. Occasionally, there were personality conflicts. While we like to think everyone can just get along together, different points of view, work styles, and temperaments can lead to friction between people.

Resolving conflicts keeps productivity high, maintains good morale, and provides a pleasant and safe working environment. There are actions you can take to minimize or eliminate any damage if there is strife in the workplace.

Quickly Deal with the Problem. Bad feelings between people can simmer like water in a covered pot – it’ll boil over without supervision. This is an opportunity to deescalate the situation before it becomes a bigger problem. You might feel uncomfortable, but it’s better than dealing with what could come next.

Listen to All Sides. Usually, conflicts originate from a difference of opinion. Understanding each person’s point of view is important. By really listening, you’ll get past the emotions to discover the real cause of the dispute. Find a private setting to speak with each person. Give your full attention and ask questions to fully understand their grievance. Knowing the problem is the first step to resolving it. Consider asking a peer or a neutral person to listen with you. This protects you and they could contribute some additional insights.

Focus on the Issue. It’s the cause and behaviors you want to correct. Putting attention on the individual instead of the issue could be perceived as a personal attack. Be professional, respectful, and empathetic. Avoid accusatory or you-versus-them statements. Focus on any assertions at the core of problem or conduct of the individuals.

Solutions. Find areas where the parties have similarities or shared goals. It will help defuse the situation. Move the conversation so all parties can work together to find a potential solution to the conflict. Use ideas from all sides to build collaboration and agreement.

Follow-up. Once everyone agrees with the actions, determine how progress will be evaluated. You’ll want to schedule follow-up conversations ensuring everyone is doing okay. You might need to adjust the plan, and that’s okay. It’s all part of the resolution process.

Learn. As bad as things might have been or seemed, this was a learning opportunity. Evaluate what you did correctly. Consider where things could have been done better, if there were any. You can be aware of future behaviors as a signal there might be a problem. The best way to stop a fight is to prevent one from happening.

You can prevent or minimize conflicts by implementing these strategies. There will always be some type of debate within teams. Create a work environment where people feel they can comfortably and freely speak without fear of ridicule. This will lead to a more cohesive and productive team.

BTW: the same tactics work at home, school, or wherever people interact.

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