Sooner or later, everyone has to handle conflict in the workplace. Usually, office skirmishes happen because of differences of opinions and strong views on how to resolve them. While it’s natural and healthy that we have our own views on matters and we should always feel secure in voicing them, conflicts can quickly escalate.
The best way to handle conflicts in the workplace is to have a clear idea on how to deal with them. Just trying to ignore strong feelings about a certain subject may be a ‘quick fix,’ that is rarely a good long-term strategy. Conflicts need to be resolved in the best way so that they don’t affect the performance of the company.
In this article, we will look at the best advice to handle conflict in the workplace.
One of the first ways to handle conflicts is to pro-actively prevent them. You can prevent many conflicts by setting down rules on how to deal with strong views. Rules help to establish which kind of behaviours are acceptable in the workplace and which are not.
For example, staff members should always feel free to approach their managers with grievances without fear of reprisals. So, open communication should be encouraged between employers and employees. This means that managers need to hold to certain rules of confidentiality and not breach the confidence of employees.
When emotions run high, it can be difficult to keep communication respectful. Sometimes, in these circumstances, rules or procedures aren’t enough to resolve the conflict. In this respect, team leaders have an important role to play.
First of all, team leaders should actively promote good, respectful communication between employees. Therefore, the moment that tensions seem to rise is the best time to deal with them.
Usually, when resolving conflicts between yourself and another employee or between two conflicting parties, it is good to divert attention from personalities to the matter in hand. Usually, taking the stance of trying to resolve the issue to achieve the company’s goals is better than attacking the other person for a perceived misdemeanour.
Open communication is always the best strategy for resolving conflicts in the workplace.
Of course, some battles need to be fought and won, especially when it’s for the success of the company. Therefore, it’s important to pick your battles wisely. In these circumstances, you need to weigh up what’s at stake. Is this just a personal opinion or is it an issue that could jeopardise the company’s goals?
Each person has their own background and their own views. This in itself can be a source of tension in the office. Some of the worst personality traits that you can come up against are stubbornness and a failure to admit a mistake. This can cause a person to ignore the fact he was wrong and ‘stick to their guns.’
Educating employees on understanding other’s views can do a lot to prevent conflict in business settings. A spirit of understanding can permeate throughout the workplace and make the organization a pleasant place to work in.
Conflicts are rarely a question of what is right and what is wrong. There are usually various shades of grey (a lot more than 50!) when it comes to disputes in the workplace. Remember, that each member of a team has a unique perspective that can benefit the growth of the company.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much you try to promote understanding at work, conflicts will still happen. So, sometimes, it good to try and keep in mind the important issues at hand. For example, is it an obvious case of personality conflicts? Is it because there has been a breakdown in communication? Have one or the other parties encroached on another’s personal space?
Usually, being aware of the underlying issue can help to resolve the conflict.
If all else fails, it is sometimes better to invite a mediator to help resolve the differences. A third-party can often see matters from a different viewpoint and help handle conflict in the workplace in the best way possible.