How to Deal with Conflict in the Workplace

All relationships can be tricky. It’s part and parcel of what makes us human. We all have different dispositions, beliefs, likes and dislikes. Can you honestly say that you’ve never had a falling out with a friend or an argument with a partner? Of course you have. It doesn’t mean you care any less about them. Conflict is only temporary if it is handled in the right way and at the earliest opportunity. 

However, many people assume that conflict will destroy their relationship and, as a consequence, avoid facing it to put off having any serious arguments. They convince themselves that a conflict doesn’t really exist and if they just ignore it, it will disappear. All this does is allow the problems to grow which can actually destroy the relationship for the future.

Conflict can help a relationship grow when all parties are respectful of each other and their differing points of view. If two people respect each other, then they should be able to develop a behaviour style that will work well for them. It is easy to determine the degree of dignity and respect between people by observing the way they look at each other, listen to and speak to each other. 

In the workplace, there will always be situations that need talking through — whether it be issues such as distribution of work, time-keeping or overall responsibility for departmental targets etc. When conflict is dealt with in a constructive and effective way, there will be room for greater understanding and growth between the two parties.

So how should you approach conflict?
  • Communication is the key to resolving conflict by not only listening to what is said but also how it is being said. It is important to keep an open mind and not interrupt the other person when they’re sharing their point of view. You should also aim to foster a sense of empathy by thinking how you might feel if you were in the other person’s shoes.
  • Actively participate when talking through your issue. Aim to have a ‘win-win’ resolution that is acceptable to all parties. Actively listen to the other’s concerns when you may arrive at an acceptable solution.
  • Choose the right time to talk things through. The atmosphere needs to be conducive to talking and listening. Do not approach the situation when irritable, hungry or rushed, but try to ensure that you release your emotions regarding the points of issue before you sit down. If not, then take a break and holdover to another day.
  • Side-to-side conversations can be beneficial. Sometimes, instead of sitting in a closed room, it might be easier to go for a walk in a neutral place, when your mind — although focused on what you are saying — may be beneficially diffused by unrelated matters going on around the two of you.

Conflict in the workplace can come in many forms and may occur for various reasons. Workplace bullying is one of these and a 2015 poll by YouGov for the TUC revealed that nearly a third of people have been bullied at work. From an intimidating manager to an impossible employee, bullying awareness training or specialist coaching can benefit your team. We allow you to meet your Duty of Care to your employees by ensuring you have the correct procedures in place so that bullying and harassment does not become endemic in your organisation. 

Conflict is part of every relationship. Even couples who have been married for many years will argue from time to time when they face challenges. The key to resolving conflict is not to be frightened of facing it.

That which separates healthy couples from others is their ability to acknowledge the existence of conflict within their relationship and their willingness to approach it with both an open mind and respect for the other side.

Mediation services can help in a constructive way to resolve issues such as jealousy, intimidation, discrimination or incompatible personalities without taking legal action. Don’t let issues get out of hand! Taking prompt action can make a tangible difference to individuals and to the organisation. 

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