As many of us know, the workplace can be a naturally stressful environment. Not only could your coworkers get on your last nerve, but pressure from work, stress at home, or just simple tension may lead to possible conflict in the work environment. “By understanding the issue and taking positive action, you can help solve the problem and make your office a place where you really want to be,” says Susan Lankton-Rivas, a practice leader at human resources consulting firm, Insight Performance Inc. Regardless of whom the conflict may be with, here are some tips to help effectively handle the situation and make peace rather than war.
1. Consider diversity and have an open mind
It’s important to keep in mind that workplaces are a mixing bowl, where what is tolerable to one person may be offensive to another. It’s likely that everyone has different perspectives and perceptions, so be aware that you need to give and take in order to find common ground between you and the person you’re disagreeing with. If you consider their point of view and are respectful of the differences, you will be able to better understand them and where they’re coming from.
2. Reflect on what might have caused the conflict
Take a step back and consider what you said or did that led to the conflict you’re in. In doing so, you may be able to pinpoint the start of the issue and how circumstances could be handled differently in the future. By reflecting and communicating what upset you, you may be able to head off conflict in its early stages next time around.
It’s hard not to jump to conclusions. Try to listen carefully to the person you’re in conflict with and understand the problem before reacting. Nodding your head and acknowledging their opinion and feelings will help get you one step closer to resolution. When you do respond, choose your words carefully and avoid assigning blame. Explain your position and feelings by using “I” statements, and be sure to calmly articulate your issue.
4. Reach out for help
Let’s say the conflict gets bigger and you aren’t able to find a middle ground. Ask for someone in the workplace to act as a mediator. This could be someone from HR or a manager from a different department that would be able to give you an unbiased and professional perspective on the situation.
5. Create a Plan of Action
Communicate how you will both manage this in the future and set guidelines for how to handle a similar situation. If another issue arises, you will now have a set plan on how to deal with it.
Although avoiding conflict may be the easiest way to deal with issues at work, it can only be swept under the rug for so long before it comes up again – possibly bigger and messier. By resolving conflict when it happens, we can create a more positive and stress-free work environment!
For more tips on dealing with conflict in the workplace, check out these links: