5 keys to resolving conflicts at work

How to resolve conflicts at work

A workplace can be a stressful environment as offices unite many people with different characters, life values, and moods. These differences tend to clash, which is normal and inevitable. To maintain a healthy working atmosphere the conflicts need to be resolved in such a way that each party feels satisfied and can continue working productively together.

Conflicts can be provoked by jealousy, money-related issues, or just because someone is having a terrible day. The worst strategy in dealing with conflicts is avoiding them. As this may result in a postponed and much more escalated conflict in the future.

Below are the tips you can use to embrace and resolve the conflict in a positive way:

  1. Approach conflict with an open mind
  2. Do not let your emotions control you
  3. Do not interpret words and do not make assumptions
  4. Treat the conflict as an opportunity
  5. Learn to forgive and to apologize

Stay open-minded 

Usually, the main reason for the conflict is a lack of information or miscommunication. If this is the case, here is what you can do:

Different people have different perceptions and it is important to find your common grounds at work. 

  • take the initiative and openly communicate your ideas;
  • listen to the other person’s opinion and try to understand how he or she has reached this point;
  • try to find some common ground, the solution that will suit you both.

Finding common ground lets you build a relationship, instead of destroying it. That helps to build trust and improves how well you can work with each other.

Get hold of your emotions

Control your emotions

There people who tend to over-react. In case you have to face other persons’ rage or frustration, try to stay focused on your common work-goals and see the future positive outcome. If you need to take a break not to react in the heat of the moment, do so and come back to the talk a bit later with a calm mind and being focused on your goal and not on your emotions. 

Do not interpret words and do not assume

Sometimes we tend to think of what this or that person meant by saying what he or she said. If you have doubts, just ask a direct question. It is important to stay calm and polite when doing this, as nothing negative happened yet, you are just trying to understand what is going on. Do not let your brain go negative, give a person the benefit of the doubt. Even a person said something incorrectly but in most of the cases, it’s not meant to put you down or assault you. And once again, do not jump to the conclusions, first ask.

Treat the conflict as an opportunity

It is a great chance to understand other people and yourself. In the conflicts, we practice our skill of speaking out what we think and feel. Besides, we learn to listen and look at ourselves from a different angle. 

Handling the conflict in a positive way can stimulate innovation and learning. When you are in a conflict or when it is resolved, try to define the following:
–  what caused the conflict, what was there in your reactions that let it grow;

– is there something you can avoid doing to prevent such situations in the future;

–  what did you learn about the other person that can help you to positively interact with him or her in the future.

Apologize and forgive

Apologise and try to forgive

You need to acknowledge that in the conflicts people’s feelings get inevitably hurt. Both parties suffer and need to apologize and try to forgive each other. Here is a draft of a plan you can use when you are ready to express your apologies and talk more about the feelings:

  • Start with how happy you are that you have both found the common ground.
  • Tell how the whole working process became easier and the company benefited from the conflict resolved. 
  • Compliment the other person’s insights and achievements in the conflict resolution process.
  • Apologize for having hurt other person’s feelings and making you both have hard times. 
  • Congratulate each on progress made and express hope for future positive and productive cooperation.  

On a side note, there are conflicts that cannot be handled or resolved without your HR or supervisor being involved.

It is high time to talk to someone and ask for help if the conflict has gone so far that you:

  • feel that the conflict has gone too personal and your colleague is showing disrespect;
  • find it impossible to communicate with the person without your feelings being hurt;
  • consider quitting the job.

To learn more about the ways your HR-manager can help, refer to the article How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts from the SRHM HR magazine.