How to successfully resolve conflicts in the workplace

Day to day work life is full of excitement, stress and hopefully a cold one at the end of it. But, it can also come with some unplanned disagreements and potential problems with your coworkers. Unfortunately, we can’t all live our lives conflict-free. And this is especially true in the workplace where tensions are high and people tend to be pulled into situations which they would normally rather avoid. Learning to navigate and ease these tensions when they do arise, then, can be vitally important. 

As such, here are the best ways that you can work towards resolving your workplace conflict… without having to resort to battle. 

Try to speak with the person 

It may be the last thing you want to do, but your first course of action during a conflict should always be to confront it head-on. A civil discussion could quickly put an end to the issue. Or it may help you to realise that further action is needed, or indeed that an outside resource is needed to resolve the issue. 

If you’re worried about how they will react or they might lie about what you have said, ensure that someone else is present during the talk. Either a coworker or a manager to guarantee you have someone there to correlate everything said. Important if the situation were to escalate even further. 

 Don’t avoid the situation 

Avoiding the situation or other person involved in your workplace conflict can be the worst choice in the long run. Unfortunately, many workplaces are not very large and avoidance quickly becomes obvious. So, try not to simply bury your head in the sand to escape the issue like an emu. Instead, face it head-on; you will find it much easier to resolve this way! 

Speak to your superior/HR

Conflicts left unchecked can quickly get out of hand. So, if you think that talking about the situation won’t resolve the issue alone, then move to get a superior involved. If nothing else, this helps to ensure they are aware of the situation and the facts are presented to them fairly from the start. Otherwise, you may find yourself contradicting or having to fight against a story established by the other party. Which can be the most difficult path to tread.  

Your manager or HR can help to dilute a situation down to the problem at hand, not the anger that has been generated as a result of it. And you may find that trained HR professionals are much more adept at solving the conflict than either you or your coworkers. 

How to successfully resolve conflicts in the workplace
Photo: Christina Morillo, Pexels.

Consider the problem, not the person

Throughout the conflict, it’s important to make sure the focus is on the problem, not the person. Attacking the other person involved in the conflict may feel good and be a natural reaction, but it doesn’t help the situation. And it can harm your case if you are seen to be the aggressive party. 

Explain your side of the issue calmly, with as much detail as possible and without being too dismissive of the other person. The less anger you bring to the situation, likely the other party will react in a similar manner. If not, then at least they demonstrate their behavior as the aggressor rather than your own. 

If you think there is a way to solve the issue, then outline it to your supervisor or the HR team. Your coworker may not agree, of course, but it does highlight your willingness to resolve the issue. Which in some cases can put you on the right foot. 

Mediate the situation 

Sometimes no level of workplace talks and sit-downs will settle the matter, especially if both parties feel there is a level of bias involved. Or if the situation involves a superior or someone higher up in the business, as the person on the other end is bound to feel mistreated if the ‘resolution’ goes in favour of the person in power. Mediation solicitors can be exactly what the situation needs in order to resolve the conflict with both parties satisfied. Especially if it helps prevent further legal action, as a disgruntled employee could easily choose to escalate the situation if they felt it hadn’t been given the appropriate level of attention or care. 

In these scenarios, the likelihood of the person leaving their job is quite high. So if the situation does escalate to this point then it is important to be prepared for this eventuality. 

Final thoughts

Conflict in the workplace can be extremely difficult to successfully navigate, especially if you are unsure whether or not it is something you can work through on your own or if it needs a more practiced hand. So, give yourself room to breathe and make sure you get the relevant people involved in the process to resolve it in the best way. 

Natalie Wilson
Natalie Wilson
Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer and avid decorator and interior designer. She loves discovering home renovation blogs and Instagram accounts and spending her free time shopping. She aims to buy her own home in the next year and begin her very own renovation project! You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976.
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