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Essential Tips for Handling Conflict in Your Workplace

Conflict in the workplace

As long as your employees have different personalities, interests, needs, and ethics, organizational or workplace conflict is bound to arise. And being a small business or startup, handling conflict will be part of your responsibilities as an entrepreneur.

If you know how to handle conflict at work, you can overcome any future in-house business problems. This piece will show you five tips on how to handle conflict in the workplace. Let’s see them below.

While there are many ways to handle conflicts, these five strategies top the charts:

1. Ensure Everyone Involved in the Conflict Is Heard and Respected

Nothing fuels conflict as much as favoritism or nepotism. The other party will feel unseen, which could cause even more problems and resentment. Your job as a mediator is to ensure everyone freely airs their views on the matter.

You must be a good listener to achieve this effectively. Shut down any interruptions or objections until everyone says what’s on their mind. Then, proceed to apply wisdom to address the situation. If you cannot handle the situation, consider hiring a consultant with experience in handling conflict.

2. Ask Questions to Get to the Root of the Disagreement

Asking questions prevents you from making assumptions about the situation.

Assumptions can impair your judgment and lead to bias or unfavorable conclusions. Wear curiosity like armor, but ensure you ask only relevant questions.

As you get more information, you may repurpose the question to change the direction of the argument. If possible, take breaks occasionally.

3. Identify and Focus on Areas of Commonality

Due to personality and management differences, some team members may feel superior to others; or, at the very least, some employees may come off this way, whether or not they actually feel this way. This superiority/inferiority complex could even be the main reason for the conflict.

For instance, your HR could be seen as superior to a team lead. In some cases, they may play this card during conflict resolution in a bid to force the other party to bow. Identify this situation immediately and make everyone feel equal.

4. Offer Solutions That Are Respectful, Collaborative, and Fair for All Parties

During mediation or conflict resolution, the parties involved can easily spot subtle disrespect. Also, they can tell when your judgment is unfair. And this could make your judgment unacceptable to them.

They may accept it at the time out of respect, but the conflict will remain. In the worst case, they’ll assume the outcome of any future mediation will not be in their favor, which will shield their heart from accepting any future judgment.

5. Follow Up With Everyone After Resolving the Conflict to Ensure You Handled It Properly

Handling conflict doesn’t end with doing all the above-mentioned tips. The real change is in the follow-up. What can everyone learn from the conflict and its resolution?

In the previous tip, we mentioned that some team members may accept your judgment out of respect and not affirmation. If this is the case, you can only spot this error when you follow up with everyone after allegedly resolving the conflict.

If you still need answers to the question, “How do you handle conflict?” or “How do I prevent conflict at work?” you may consider these two bonus tips:

1. Encourage Open Communication Between Team Members and Yourself

As your business grows, you’ll begin to have teams with different specialties working together. However, there won’t be collaboration without open communication.

If you notice this, inquire about the barrier behind the lack of open communication between team members. So many things, like differences in culture, language, gender, emotions, etc., can pose a barrier to open communication. Tackle these barriers first, and watch as productivity rises.

2. Make Sure Everyone Understands the Company Policies Regarding Conflict Resolution

Having a policy regarding handling conflict can shield you from many future problems. During staff hiring or onboarding, ensure you properly communicate this policy to them so that when conflict arises, you can remind them of the company’s stance.

Having a conflict resolution policy can give you legal protection when conflict matters that warrant prosecution emerge, especially if it involves you as the company’s head.

Before and after you hire workers, give them training on conflict matters. If possible, include actions that may discourage conflict in your workplace.

Next Steps

Conflict resolution is a skill that you will get better at with time and the right mentorship. Being an exclusive haven of leading business leaders, EO Boston gives you the opportunity to learn conflict resolution and other important skills directly from renowned business leaders through our Forums and mentorship avenues. To get started, see if you qualify for membership.


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