Tools for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace


Conflict in the workplace is never a good thing. It takes up time and energy that frankly could be better spent doing more productive things. Though many people try to wish it away for the most part it remains. We need tools and strategies to resolve conflict in the workplace. 

Skills in Conflict Management

Resolving conflict is a skill. No less resolving conflict in the workplace is also skill. With preparation and practice one can know how to solve conflicts at work with ease. As a first point of call, we need to manage our reaction to conflict. This presents a challenge because when we are resolving conflict at work, we may be presented with the following personalities. 

  • The Attacker- The attacker is often full of emotion. Seemingly out of nowhere they will launch into a tirade. When it comes to an attacker its best to let them speak. Allow them to feel heard. Paraphrasing what they have said and adding a closed question to confirm usually does the trick. 
  • Short Tempered person- short tempers are hard to deal with. At times it seems like even the slightest thing can set this person off. When it comes to someone with a short temper, we need to start by enquiring as to what is causing the reaction. Lots of broad open to better understand why they feel this way can help move things along.
  • The Complainer- A complainer, particularly a constant complainer can be exhausting. A conflict resolution tool to combat a complainer is to use objective reasoning and data. The more objective the better. If you can logically highlight why something is happening to a complainer and provide hard evidence to support it, it makes it more challenging for them to complain. 
  • The strong silent one- Sometimes silence can be deafening. resolving conflict in the work place with someone who doesn’t speak isn’t always easy. It’s important to try and build a relationship with someone so we can get them talking. Failing this a series of broad open questions usually gets a response. Don’t give up. We need to dig, dig, dig to get the conversation going.
  • Indecisive- People who are indecisive need to be present with no more than three options to a situation. Any more than three makes it seem to complex a problem to respond to quickly. Provide objective data and reasoning to all options presented. 

5 Tools for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Below is a series of conflict resolution tools and conflict management tools to assist you when resolving conflicts at work or home.

Stay Calm

When you fight fire with fire you end up with a burnt relationship. When it comes to resolving conflict at workplace, it’s important to not react and choose your response. Staying clam even in the face of high emotion enables us to make better decisions and choose a response suitable for resolving conflict rather than exacerbating it.  

Listen to understand not reply

Nothing slows down the conflict resolution process faster than disengaging from your counterpart. When we are busy formulating hurtful comebacks or rebuttals to arguments we’re often not listening to our counterpart. Slow things down and rather than formulating a detailed attack. Hear what they are saying.

Attack the Problem, Not the Person

All too often when conflate the person and then problem. It’s easy to see them ads the same thing. In fact, they are not. Disentangle how you feel about the person from the actual problem you need to solve. 

Avoid the Blame Game

Blaming others often exacerbates existing tensions.  Where possible rather than blaming others try to understand what data they may have been exposed to or what assumptions they may be making that would lead them to take a particular action.

Ask the Right Kind of Questions

Any question that helps you understand more about your counterpart’s view is a good question. Ask broad open probative questions to increase understanding. 

Identify how the problem can be solved

Work hard to identify solutions but not too early. Once you have a clear understanding of what the problem is and what exactly is causing it, then it’s some to get creative and generate solutions that solve the problem. A solution focused mindset can keep you on track.

Try to find a common goal and agree on the solution

Actively seek out solutions that are mutually beneficial. Start by identifying common ground. Where your needs and drivers align with there’s. From here use this information to create value-based solution that you can both agree upon. This not only increases the likelihood that they will agree. But also increases the likelihood that the issue will be effectively resolved. 

Conclusions

Humans are complicated and complex beings. We’re aware that conflict drains us of energy, inspiration, time and money. Yet, we continue engage in conflict leave it unresolved. We feel hurt and hold grudges. We’d rather ignore conflict rather than resolve it. More often than not conflict is left to fester. It not only impacts our relationships in the workplace but often directly impacts out productivity and connectedness to a team. These feelings often bleed into our personal lives.

Rather than leaving conflict to negatively impact our days we need to resolve it. Resolving conflict in the workplace will improve ongoing relationships, increase productivity and ensure a harmonious culture. We need to work towards building a culture than not only prevents conflict from arises but acknowledges it presence and navigates it effectively. 

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