Nobody likes conflicts. Unfortunately, conflicts are part and parcel of life. No two people are exactly alike, therefore, it is only natural that disagreements occur. However, it is necessary to deal with these conflicts in a healthy and constructive way, both in your personal life and in a professional setting.
When it comes to workplace conflicts, it is necessary for them to be dealt with effectively to avoid disruptions to productivity. Nobody likes to deal with parties at war; but being able to do so might be an invaluable way to build trust and understanding between team members, and ultimately lead to stronger team dynamics.
So how can you resolve workplace conflicts skilfully to reduce the chances of similar issues repeating themselves in the future? Here are 6 useful tips for you to try out.
1. Allow open communication
They say there are always two sides to every story. In any conflict, it is important that each party involved gets a chance to express why they feel wronged.
The conflict resolution process should therefore always be held in a safe place, in private if necessary, where parties can relate their experiences without the fear of being judged or punished. If you are helping to resolve the conflict, listen actively and openly, and give equal opportunities for everyone to state their case.
Want to learn more? Check out the ReSkills OnTheGo class “Communicate Your Way Out of A Conflict” here.
2. Identify the cause of the conflict
After hearing each party out, a manager or person in charge should identify what caused the conflict. For managers, make sure to keep yourself and your team calm at all times. Do not give in to emotion, and avoid showing signs that you agree with one group and not another.
Investigate the case. Dig deeper and find out more about what happened, who was involved, the issues, and how people are feeling. Talk to others if necessary. Focus on achieving a common goal: what do both parties ultimately want, and how can we best achieve that? Identify both points of agreement and disagreement, and use them to craft an action plan.
Want to learn more? Check out the ReSkills OnTheGo class “Resolving Workplace Conflicts” here.
3. Work out a fair solution
Do not come into the resolution process with preconceived notions or come to any conclusions without first having heard the whole story. Listen actively to everyone, and try to be as empathetic and compassionate as possible. Remember that not everyone acts the same way in similar situations: what may seem like a minor issue to you may be a huge thing to another person.
Keep in mind that in many cases, no party will be completely at fault. Often, conflicts happen because of misunderstandings or differences of personality, and not necessarily because of malice or deliberate wrongdoing.
Work on achieving a solution that benefits everyone. Some level of compromise may be necessary for one or all the people involved. Aim, however, to achieve win-win situations.
Want to learn more? Check out the ReSkills OnTheGo class “Proactive Conflict Management in the Workplace” here.
4. Focus on events, not personalities
When dealing with difficult behaviour, make sure to refer to specific actions, not a person’s character. For instance, say “I see you shouted at X last week”, instead of “you are an angry person who shouts at people”. Avoid sweeping statements about how someone is, as this often makes them feel attacked, and therefore less likely to cooperate.
Whenever possible, mention specific instances of negative behaviour, and avoid generalizations. Stress that the goal is not to ridicule or put a person down, but to find a solution that ensures everyone can work in harmony.
Want to learn more? Check out the ReSkills OnTheGo class “Handling Challenging People At Work” here.
5. Put your plan into action
Once you have worked out a way to resolve the conflict, make sure it is enforced. Sadly, it is very common for one party to completely ignore any proposed solutions, and revert to the behavior that they are used to.
Determine the responsibilities that both parties have in resolving the conflict, and follow up on the situation from time to time. Adapt to changes if any. If possible, provide incentives to go along with the situation, and provide solid, positive validation to those who cooperate.
In addition, ask yourself what you have learnt from the conflict, and what can be put in place to ensure a similar situation never happens again. This will go a long way in ensuring healthy workplace conditions for the future.
Want to learn more? Check out the ReSkills OnTheGo class “Workplace Conflicts and Resolutions” here.
6. Seek a mediator
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a conflict may prove to be unresolvable. This is not your fault – some parties may just refuse to see eye-to-eye, or some circumstances may be too complicated for you to handle.
For these situations, it may be useful to engage another neutral third party to help. Consult a superior if necessary. There are even professional mediators you can hire if you feel the situation has really gone over your head. Hopefully, their assistance can help you solve the conflict once and for all.
Want to learn more? Check out the ReSkills OnTheGo class “Prevent and Manage Conflicts” here.
Conflicts are a natural part of life, but they don’t have to ruin your workplace environment. We hope that these tips will help you deal with them effectively!