Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace

dealing with conflict at work

How can we learn to navigate conflict in the workplace, whilst still maintaining a professional manner and a strong working relationship with our colleagues? This type of question is one that you are likely to face at least once in your career. Workplace conflict is always going to be possible in a working environment, especially when you have a large group of people, all with different personalities and opinions that won’t always align. At their worst, workplace conflicts can create an awkward and unenjoyable working atmosphere, and as a result, this can affect the quality of work that is being produced. Yet, tackling and resolving the underlying factors that cause conflict can be simple and easy when you know how.

Conflict and Handling Tactics:

When it comes to dealing with conflict at work, there are many different ways to approach it and it is important to find a managerial style that suits you best. Whilst we often advocate using a 9-step model that ensures conflict is eradicated at all levels, here are 3 easy steps that will allow you to do the same.

  1. Assess: Is it possible to avoid or turn around a potentially negative situation and avoid dealing with conflict at work?
  2. Action: Constructing an action plan to positively approach conflict, such as addressing the situation when it first arises, rather than leaving it to continue as an underlying problem.
  3. Resolution: We must ensure that our process finishes with the outcome of resolution, otherwise you cannot have successfully tackled conflict in the workplace. This is a key part of the process of ensuring that high-performance levels are achieved, and members of a company can work effectively in a team despite minor altercations.

These applicable steps will provide you with a basis to work from when you find yourself dealing with conflict at work. Whilst these are helpful, it is also important to remember that excellent communication skills are among the most vital and sought-after attributes in business. This is something you don’t often even realise you are using throughout your day, but it is often crucial in enabling us to move forward and advance in working relationships. Without strong communication skills, we would find ourselves coming head to head with problems all of the time.

Importance of Listening & Questioning Skills:

Listening and questioning skills may seem a minor skill to practice, but they are so important in day-to-day conversations, as well as in professional and personal relationships. It is easy to assume that we are right in disagreements, but it is important to take a step back and listen to what others have to say before we come to conclusions on the matter at hand.

Why is listening important? By not interrupting and allowing the other person time to explain their viewpoints, we can ensure we have addressed the problem at hand. Often by communicating, our emotions can get the better of us. So, we need to make sure we stay rational in our approach to conflict in the workplace.

Why is questioning important? Being able to question someone, who may have an alternative viewpoint to yours, can provide a better understanding as to why the conflict has arisen. Your questioning manner should not be aggressive, argumentative or appear accusatory. You should take a constructive approach when dealing with conflict at work, and questioning will allow you to gain more information to fully assess the other person’s argument.

By using the above steps when dealing with conflict at work, you should be able to see how something negative can be turned into something positive. It can lead us to develop in different ways and teach us valuable skills in compromise and how to effectively listen so that a resolution can be found and implemented.