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Great Tips For Managing Workplace Conflict

Conflict Resoultion - Opposing ForcesWhen you work together in an organization, there is always going to be conflict. There are conflicts of personality, conflicts of ideas, conflicts of values, or perhaps someone just has a bad day and feels the need to take it out on someone else. Regardless of what the reason for conflict is, it is essential that it is resolved before something gets out of hand. This requires quite specific skills, and here are some great tips to make sure you can deal with any sort of conflict that may arise in your workplace.

Do Not Solve The Problem

This seems like strange advice. After all, isn’t the only way to resolve conflict to find a solution? The issue is, however, that immediately jumping to a solution may seem like you are being dismissive of the conflict in the first place.

 “It’s easy to want to take sides to move a decision along. Take the time to listen to the complaints. I tell my folks not to bring me an issue with another employee until they tell me they have already talked to that person and tried to work it out independently.”  The Culture Gap by Paul Spiegelman

You must remember that your role is to resolve the conflict, not solve a problem. That is something the parties involved in the conflict must come to by way of discussion and agreement. They need to learn to communicate in such a way that they can understand each other’s points of views and come to a decision that is mutually acceptable. Your role is to facilitate that.

Lauren Mackler at Harvard Business School – Managing Conflict

Do Not Let Emotions Drive Decisions

The reason why conflicts arise is usually due to emotions. People feel strongly about their point of view. They have feelings towards and issue. If someone then disagrees with those emotions, it feels like a personal attack. As a result, people become defensive or either offensive, trying to maintain their personal position, rather than being more altruistic in their decision-making process.

 “While having a conflict resolution structure is important, effective utilization of conflict resolution processes is ultimately dependent upon the ability of all parties to understand the benefits of conflict resolution, and perhaps more importantly, their desire to resolve the matter.”  5 Keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict by Mike Myatt

Let Everybody Speak

As the mediator in a conflict situation, or even if you are involved in a conflict yourself, it is vital that everybody has a voice. If you silence someone, you are dismissing their opinion and creating greater conflict. Besides that, silencing someone means you are choosing sides.

“Merely silencing a co-worker or refusing to even consider the situation from his or her perspective rarely leads to a lasting resolution. So don’t turn a basic conflict into a one-sided monologue. Take the time to listen and try to learn something from the situation.”  10 Tips for Managing Conflict in the Workplace by Nathan Chandler

You must understand that different people have different ways of communicating. Not everybody is highly eloquent and some people struggle with face to face communication. Perhaps one of the parties even has a speech impediment. Hence, you have to ensure that all possible modes of communication are allowed as well, be that face to face or via email or other forms of non-verbal communication.

Understand The Bigger Picture

Last but not least, you must always understand the bigger picture. On the surface, it may seem that a conflict is just between two people, but the reality is that it affects far more people and situations than just the two that are at loggerheads. As the one who is resolving the conflict, you must be able to look deeper.

“Everyone in your office and every employee with whom the conflicting employees interact, is affected by the stress. People feel as if they are walking on egg shells in the presence of the antagonists. This contributes to the creation of a hostile work environment for other employees.”  Workplace Conflict Resolution by Susan M. Heathfield About.com

About 

Co-owner/Co-founder of Intesi! Resources. Educated as an architect I transitioned to technology during my career in architecture. Intesi! Resources was founded in 2002 and my focus is everything Web/eCommerce related from the design and development of our site to all the marketing activities involved. I also provide significant support for our clients on all our products and how they are used to deliver assessment-driven learning solutions that develop self-awareness and interpersonal skills.

8 thoughts on “Great Tips For Managing Workplace Conflict

  1. Teena

    I don’t know if I agree with the entire do not solve the problem idea. I realize that it does help the productivity of the company in a sense but it doesn’t help the people at all and what do you do if it causes one of your best workers to quit? Then you have created another problem for your self. Thank you for the article that gives me something to think about.

    Reply
  2. Columbus

    If you are a business owner or a person who holds a position in upper level management, you want your subordinates to get along. You want your team to work like a cohesive unit in order to maximize productivity. If you’re a manager and you have two or more persons bickering, even if it is about the way they work on the project, that reflects upon you as a manager of personnel – and not in a good way.

    Reply
  3. Mike

    I think it is easier said than done when it comes to people’s ability to control their emotions while they are trying to resolve conflicts. Those who are able to do this are likely to be managers or some other upper level executive position. I think it is important for large companies to offer conflict resolution training for its employees. It can help foster a good working environment.

    Reply
  4. James

    Thank you so much for sharing your tips with us I really do think that these will work with a couple of ladies that I have working for me, they bicker all the time and argue with everything the other one does it is really ridiculous and bothersome to the other employees around them. Maybe with your help I can help them fix the issues.

    Reply
  5. Jorge

    I have heard some experts say that you should not talk about your goals or dreams with anyone who does not share the similar interests. Otherwise, if you tell the wrong person about your goal to get promoted, you may well step on that person’s toes and create an enemy for yourself in your work place. That is the last place you will want to have foes. You need cooperation in the work place.

    Reply
  6. Timothy

    One of the best suggestion I have heard about when it comes to how to perceive conflict is to look at it as an opportunity rather than a problem to avoid. When handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people. If you have ever made up with a friend or significant other, you’ll realize that you became closer after you both resolved the issues.

    Reply
  7. Aaron

    I don’t know if it is a good thing to leave it unresolved or if you should resolve it quickly. I know in some cases if it is left unresolved the people involved in the conflict will work faster and get more done because they are usually angry at each other. Haven’t you ever been mad and cleaned your house just to burn off the energy?

    Reply
  8. Woodrow

    I have been in a workplace conflict before and it was not pretty, you end up going out of your way to avoid the person and there comes a time that your bosses will recognize what is going on and they will make you work with each other even if you don’t want to and that is an awkward situation if I have ever been in one. Thank you for putting this out here.

    Reply

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