How to deal with workplace conflicts - Develop your personality and business skills.
How to Resolve a Conflict at Work
You might experience conflict in the workplace for a variety of reasons, including promotion opportunities, salary disputes, feeling a lack of appreciation, and personal differences.When conflict arises, realize that it’s not the end of the world, and you don’t need to get another job. Approach the situation maturely and seek to resolve the issue. Take the initiative to confront the problem, and remember to not make a work issue a personal issue. Say what you need to say and don’t forget to listen to their side. Ask questions and seek clarification for things you’re unclear about. Lastly, create some solutions and stick to them.
Approaching the Conflict
Acknowledge the conflict.Pretending that nothing is wrong isn’t the way to handle a conflict. Begin by admitting there’s a problem that needs resolution. Acknowledge the conflict and the roles you and the other person have played in creating or sustaining the problem. Be honest with yourself about your own role in the situation.
- Think about what factors are influencing the problem, such as scheduling, personality conflicts, feeling overworked, or disrupting some kind of perceived pecking order.
- Look at not only your side, but the other side as well. Looking at both sides can help you understand the problem from both perspectives.
Focus on the problem, not the person.If the conflict is not personal, don’t make it personal. Put your focus on the problem and finding ways to solve that problem. You can’t change the person, and you will likely continue working with them. Even if you don’t want to be friends with the person, keep your focus on the problem without making it a personal issue.
- It’s easy to feel personally attacked for something, especially if it’s regarding your work. Do your best to not take things personally and keep everything within the lens of your work.
Take the initiative.It is important to address issues as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming larger issues in the future. If you notice a problem, then address it right away. For example, you could hold a meeting to discuss the issue and work together to find a solution.
- Don’t wait for the person to come to you. Be the first one to bring up the problem, no matter what your role is.
- Sometimes a conflict can arise over a personal failure. Even so, handling failure at work with honesty and integrity can do much to prevent even worse conflicts from emerging.
Talking it Over
Choose the right time and place to talk.A hurried conversation at your desk between emails and phone calls won’t solve anything. Put some thought into talking with the person. You need an undisturbed location and time to address the issue.
- Decide whether you want to send an email or have an in-person discussion. If you speak in-person, do so away from other employees and when both of you have time to talk.
Ask what’s not working.If somebody has done something that made you angry or if you don’t understand their actions, simplyaskingabout it can make a world of difference. Don’t assume that people do what they do to annoy or harm you. Sometimes, there’s a good reason why that person does what he or she does. Other times, they may not even realize that they did something hurtful, and bringing it to their attention can clarify their intentions. Make an inquiry, not an accusation. Try to remain neutral and phrase your questions as matters of curiosity.
- “Say, I was wondering why you brushed off my question yesterday,” or “I’ve noticed that you cut my work down, and I’m wondering why that is.”
Listen to their perspective.When hashing things out with a coworker, don’t make it all about you. Be willing to hear them out, listen to their perspective, and consider their feelings. Give them ample time to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. If they feel defensive, let them express that. Let them talk without interrupting them.
- Don’t take up the whole interaction with your side. Be willing to hear them out. You may gain more information or understand them better.
- Check to see if they’re done speaking. Say, “Is there anything else you want to add or say to me?”
Find things you agree upon.Find some common ground with the person. This might mean that both of you acknowledge that a problem exists or that something needs to be solved. Perhaps you can agree that both you and they need to do something to create resolution. Whatever it is, findsomethingeach of you can get behind.
- For example, if you feel bullied, both of you might agree that you have problems getting along or splitting responsibilities.
- Say, “I want us to resolve this. Let’s find some things we can agree upon so that we can move forward.”
Apologize for any wrongdoing.Apologize for your part in the conflict. Usually everyone involved has done something to create and sustain the conflict. Own up to how you contributed to the dispute and express regret and responsibility. Remember: you’re not accepting the entire blame, you’re taking responsibility for your contribution to the situation.
- For example, say, “I’m sorry I said those hurtful things. I was upset, but it wasn’t right of me to call you that.”
Resist acting on impulse.If your coworker says something offensive or hurtful, resist the urge to fire something harsh back. You might say something you regret or blow the issue out of proportion. If a conflict arises, take some time to think it over before immediately responding. You may come to realize that you misheard them, misunderstood them, or need further clarification.
- Immediately responding will likely mean you respond in a negative way.
Avoid accusations and blame.Keep from becoming defensive or blaming the other person. Even if you feel victimized, don’t pour your negativity onto them. It might be tempting to call them out and let others know how they’ve wronged you, but keep some decorum as this is your workplace.
- If you want to express how you feel wronged or hurt, use “I” statements. For example, say, “I felt really hurt when you took credit for the project during the meeting,” instead of, “I can’t believe you did that. You’re a horrible person.”
Involve human resources (HR).Your human resources department can help you solve workplace conflicts. If the conflict is growing larger or you feel like you want to quit over it, now is the time to get HR involved. You may also want to involve your HR department if the conflict is personal or workplace morale is low for you and maybe even those around you.
- Your HR department can send someone to mediate or get you and the other person talking more constructively. A good mediator will help the disputants find their own solution, not provide advice or push them toward any particular solution.
Develop a plan for resolution.Once you feel like you’ve talked over the problem, propose possible solutions. Keep the focus on the future and how each of you can respond better.Find points where you can compromise or work on communicating more effectively. Create a different way of problem-solving or working together, such as taking turns or writing things out instead of saying them out loud.
- If you can’t create a plan on your own, involve your manager or HR in creating ways to approach conflicts.
- For example, if the person talks over you in meetings, say, “I want to be heard. Is it possible for you to wait until I finish speaking to chime in? If you start to talk over me, I will ask you to let me finish.”
Follow through on your plan.It’s not enough to just create a resolution. Both you and the other person must follow through on any agreed-upon solutions. Discuss ways to stay accountable, whether that means that other co-workers will participate or your workplace will step in. Create a system to be accountable. You might want to include HR in enforcing any changes.
- For example, if you struggle to have balance in projects, divvy up tasks before starting the project so that they feel fair and equal. Have someone neutral step in and get their opinion on the tasks.
Make necessary changes.Depending on the dispute, you may need to make some changes, such as by changing your role in the workplace. For example, if you can’t find a resolution, then consider changing departments or taking a different role in your workplace. If you know talking to the person will upset you or cause problems, engage only in “water cooler” discussions. Do what you can to avoid creating or perpetuating further disputes.
QuestionHow do I deal with an employee who is constantly arrogant and insubordinate?
Licensed Professional CounselorLicensed Professional CounselorExpert AnswerIt's usually helpful to have a direct conversation with the employee to inquire about their thoughts on the matter. They may not even realize that they are coming off that way, so it's important to avoid being accusatory. If the behavior persists, then you will need to discuss further actions and resolutions.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I resolve difficulties working with colleagues in a polite and constructive way?
Licensed Professional CounselorLicensed Professional CounselorExpert AnswerCome to the discussion with an attitude of openness and non-judgement. Also, avoid being defensive or taking things personally. Try to address the conflicts directly rather than criticizing the people involved.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I deal with coworkers that have nothing to do all day? They are my leads and they see how much work I have to do, but yet they still won't pitch in.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTalk to someone higher up about your own workload. Make it about you, not them. For example, say, "I have so much work and I'm constantly staying late. I need to cut back, and I need some help splitting my responsibilities with someone else."Thanks!
QuestionWhy should issues or situations be resolved promptly?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBecause what might be small or moderate today could potentially be extreme tomorrow. In other words, It might get worse over time. It is true that sometimes things work out on heir own, but Why take that chance? Why wait on resolving a conflict? Better to prevent than lament.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I am working in one place and receive a call to go do something work-related in another place?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's a judgment call, but you should go to the place where you think you are more urgently needed. Don't forget which place is more important.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I deal with demeaning staff?ArebelloCommunity AnswerIf the entire staff is an issue, consider talking to someone higher up in the company. It may be that he/she is not aware of the issue.Thanks!
QuestionShould there be notes taken in mediation?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEither the mediator and/or the participants can take notes, but all notes should be destroyed (torn up and thrown away or shredded) at the end of the mediation.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get my manager to listen to me and help resolve conflicts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake him/her happy by completing your duties as required, and then some. After which you can humbly approach him/her when they are not busy and tell them you want to discuss something that bothers you. If you find your boss still will not listen to you, talk to their boss or the human resources department.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I resolve a misunderstanding with my boss?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake it clear that it was a misunderstanding and that you're not accusing them of anything. Say, "I'm not sure I did a good job communicating earlier. Let me try again."Thanks!
QuestionHow do I deal with an old coworker who babies me, asks personal questions and is always gossiping/talking. Distancing myself has not worked and isn't a great option as we have to work somewhat as a team and they don't like my introverted nature. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
What do you do when everyone that's higher up sticks together? Including HR? No matter what you're in the wrong.
I'm strongly considering walking away. I've done almost everything suggested in this article, but I'm a woman and my employer is very misogynistic. How do I address why I need to leave?
How do I handle a difficult manager / client
How do I deal with an employee using drugs
How do I resolved a misunderstanding with my boss who constantly listen to the vendor's side instead of asking for fact from both sides?
- Inviting the other person to discuss the issue may be the hardest part of the whole process. It can be remarkably hard to take that first step. Do it anyway!
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