Dealing With Conflict In the Workplace

Author: Steve Wilheir

Conflict is an inevitable by-product of human interaction. No matter who you are, and for as long as you live, you will encounter conflict. In our litigious society, it is commonplace for disputes to degenerate into painful, extended lawsuits. Something as basic as fundamental personality differences between team members can keep the job from getting done. Here are some methods you can use to manage conflict toward conflict resolution.

Age old practices of avoiding a conflict simply don’t work in reality. It is not always possible to avoid disputes, however strict the regulatory system may be. A dispute or conflict happens by chance and without anybody’s knowledge. In such a scenario, conflict management measures play an effective role and hence should be implemented.

Identifying Conflicts

It is preferable to avoid getting into arguments for the sake of doing more work, but often, colleagues tussle over concepts and how they are to be presented. Instead of turning against one another and arguing over office politics, co-workers ought to work with each other to identify what’s causing the productivity to decline.

As an example, when a conflict is due to someone’s having too much authority in the decision-making process, the other team members have a responsibility to learn why that co-worker is trying to take control of things.

Handle Conflicts

A lot of individuals feel hesitant and insecure about handling co-workers who are less than agreeable. However, it benefits no one if this type of employee is permitted to persist in trouble-making behavior. Actually, if the issue is ignored it validates the behavior of the troublesome individual, and does nothing to discourage them from persisting in making the same mistakes.

To paraphrase, it is the job of the other workers in the group to work proactively with a difficult party in order to resolve conflict. Employees can approach their manager as a backup plan, but it is best to first deal directly with the co-worker who is perceived as the source of group conflict. The thing to keep in mind is that how you approach this person has a direct bearing on the outcome. Confronting anyone too harshly over a problem is only likely to escalate it, once he or she grows upset.

We should be courteous and friendly in the manner in which we talk to the individual that has caused problems for the rest of the office, instead. Use specific incidents that were especially upsetting, and be sure to have another person available who can offer a second opinion. Additionally, having written documentation of the employee’s problematic actions is always a good idea.

Prevent Conflicts in the Future

Learning from the past can go a long way towards preventing future mishaps. This doesn’t mean that we have to see impending doom in every situation, but enables us to pinpoint certain signs that an incident might go out of control. This gives us the ability to diffuse a potentially difficult situation.

A successful conflict resolution will benefit everyone involved. If it is handled properly, there will be no one fired, and co-workers will be able to create a closer relationship with each other. When this stronger bond is created between co-workers, they will be able to handle any future problems that arise in a more efficient manner.

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About the Author

Steve Wilheir is a project management consultant and the founder of Leadership Development training. Visit his site for more information on Characteristics of an effective leader and Leadership Qualities