Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable, and trying to ignore it is a mistake you don’t want to make. In an office setting, you’re working with people from various backgrounds and differing opinions at every level. It’s only a matter of time and circumstance until conflict arises.

“While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies in how one chooses to deal with it.”

How do you handle workplace conflict? The key is to proactively look for it before it occurs. This will help you either prevent or lessen the impact it has. Whether you’re the CEO, manager, or newest employee, you have a responsibility to always be aware of potential conflict.

This guide brings you through conflict resolution in the workplace for individual involvement and 3rd-party mediation. It provides the strategies you should keep in mind when working with others, even in a remote environment.


First-person workplace conflict involvement

When you’re one of the people directly involved in the workplace conflict, that means you have a part in the blame. The first actions to take when conflict arises are:
  • Calm down.
  • Introspect on your involvement:
    • How were you involved?
    • What could you have done better?
    • What can you do to resolve this conflict?
    • What can you learn from this experience?
  • Think about the other party involved in a productive manner:
    • What did they want?
    • What are their needs you can address?
    • How can you use empathy to resolve the other party’s frustrations?
By focusing on helping the other party involved, whether it be a single person or a group, you show you have no interest in causing conflict but rather want to support them. This will help them lower their guard and be more open to discussion, which will make conflict resolution much easier.

Always stay positive every step of the way. Pushing yourself to maintain a positive outlook, no matter how frustrated you can be, will greatly affect your potential for resolving conflict. You can remain positive by repeating it to yourself, or you can try:
  • Remember the good qualities in the other party involved.
  • Pay attention to future potential, not past mistakes.
  • Remember your own positive qualities.

When addressing the other party, it helps to keep in mind:
  • Use active listening to better understand what they are saying before getting your voice heard.
  • Focus on the solution before the problem, and the problem instead of the person.
  • Offer two possible solutions in your answers to show you have no interest in conflict but rather want to help.
  • Have confidence, but leave your ego at the door.
  • Show you care about the other party’s concerns by offering solutions that help them reach their objectives.

Alternatively, there are things you can do to make conflict less severe from the start. When you proactively intervene in potential cases of conflict, you can either avoid it from happening entirely or lessen the impact the conflict ultimately has. You can also avoid some conflicts completely when you consciously pick your battles. Some conflict simply doesn’t need to happen, and you’ll be able to avoid it when you restrain yourself from time to time.

3rd-party mediation

Set a meeting between the differing parties with a mediator. The mediator could be yourself or a human resources person.

Have ground rules prepared for participants:
  • Be respectful.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Try to understand their point of view.

Have participants use “I” statements when describing the conflict, and have them include their ideas for desired changes. Then, ask the mediator to summarize the points from both sides.

Next, brainstorm solutions as a group. Rule out any biased or unrealistic solutions. Again ask the mediator to summarize the items discussed. Deliberate on which solution would work best for everyone involved, and conclude with an agreed upon plan for next steps.

Before parting ways, have both parties apologize and thank each other for the resolution.

Worst case scenario

When should human resources get involved?
  • When the conflict has compelled an employee to want to quit their job.
  • The conflict has reached to the point of personal attacks.
  • The employees involved are spreading hostilities to other coworkers, affecting company morale.


While workplace conflict is bound to happen from time to time, it can be lessened or quickly resolved if you remember these tips. For conflict resolution in the workplace to happen, you need to be aware of both your contributions and the other party’s needs. Only after you step back and think objectively will you see the best results.

As an employer, you don’t want to see unnecessary conflict occur between your staff. Not all conflict should happen, so it’s important to have the right staff employed who will have the self-control to avoid it.

A great way to prevent unnecessary conflict is to find the right people that fit with your company culture. It shouldn’t be hard to have an office staffed with people who will work together and get things done, and we can help you achieve that. Contact us today to learn more about how we can get the right staff for your business.

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