How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace

Handling Conflict Successfully Can Help to Create a Stronger Bond

New colleagues shaking hands
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Conflicts in the workplace can occur for many reasons, but some of the top reasons for conflict are that people often have very different ideas and ways of approaching their job that everyone around them might not agree with. Each of us has learned very early on how to handle conflict. For some of us, that means knowing how to effectively communicate our desires and our needs in order to better understand the problem and how it relates to others; but for some of us, it may be that we learned to handle conflict by being aggressive and not be willing to compromise which makes it difficult to come to any kind of a solution.

When individuals feel threatened in any way, they may often resort to the flight or fight response to alleviate their stress. Unfortunately, neither of these responses is a good way to handle conflict because the root of the problem still remains and neither party feels any resolution. Wherever there are people living or working together, there are bound to be problems. The key to handling any type of conflict is to learn strategies where both people can feel heard.

Establish Strong Professional Relationships From the Start

One key way to avoiding conflict in the workplace is to take some time to establish good working relationships with your supervisor and your co-workers. Developing strong relationships in the workplace can help you to avoid much of the pettiness that can go on when people don’t feel accepted as an important part of the group. Staying out of the line of fire when it comes to office politics can put you in a position to stay out of some of the negativity that can invade the workplace. Avoid office politics at all costs and make it a practice to stay away from office gossip as well. Participating in office gossip can put you in a bad light and cause your supervisor and coworkers to view you as someone who is unprofessional and perhaps a troublemaker to boot.

Conflict in the workplace can often be a good thing and something to embrace. Conflict can help get problems on the table and force both parties to take a stand on their beliefs and hopefully find a way that they can communicate on what they would both like to accomplish. Facing conflict early on also helps prevent bad feelings to fester while also providing an opportunity to move closer to a deeper understanding.

Making Peace in the Workplace

Usually, we make more out of conflict than we really need to do. It may be our personal pride that holds us back from being the first person to take the initiative to move closer to the other person but by just being the first one to take action, shows your willingness to create some good will.

Focus on the Facts

When trying to resolve a conflict with another person it is important that you stick just to the facts. It is quite possible that the two of you see things in a totally different way, which is usually why conflict begins in the first place, but it’s very important for both parties to stay with what they see as the facts and not let emotions get in the way.

Ask an Objective Third Party to Help

You may find that the problem has gone on too long or that one or both of you has some very strong feelings on a particular issue so it can often times be helpful for both parties to sit down both individually and together with an objective third party. Another person might help you draw a different perspective on the problem, which could be all it takes to come to a solution that can be accepted by both parties.

Be a Good Listener

Oftentimes conflicts can be avoided or solved rather quickly if each party would take the time to fully listen to what the other party has to say rather than having to express their opinion first and then occupy their mind by thinking of what else they want to say. It’s also important to go into any kind of negotiations with a clear mind and avoid any preconceived notions. The communication should always be respectful and both parties should work to make the other person feel heard.

Maintain a Win-Win Attitude

Even though two people may be in conflict, they may still be very much in sync on what they’d both like to see happen. When something ends up being a win-win for both parties, the result is usually a sense of goodwill and a strong feeling of accomplishment. Working through a problem and coming up with a win-win situation for everyone really can help to make a working relationship stronger and benefits both parties.