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Conflict resolution strategies and principles to de-escalate problems


This guide outlines the 6 key principles and conflict resolution strategies to defuse workplace disagreements.

Conflict in the workplace is a natural and unavoidable part of working in a team. However, if conflicts are not effectively resolved, they can fester and lead to decreased productivity, morale, and even a high turnover rate. That’s why companies need to put conflict resolution strategies in place to de-escalate diagreements and prevent them from disrupting the work environment. 

Conflict resolution strategies: the principles

Since conflict is a natural, and often healthy part of any workplace, it’s important to have strategies in place that de-escalate conflicts and prevent them from disrupting productivity and morale.  Read more here for six principles and conflict resolution strategies gathered by  specialists to help de-escalate conflicts in the workplace:

Stay Calm

Remaining calm and composed when dealing with conflicts can help prevent the situation from escalating. If all parties involved can avoid reacting emotionally or becoming defensive, they may come to a resolution more efficiently. Try taking a few deep breaths to help keep yourself stay centered during workplace conflicts. 

Practice Active Listening

Active listening is when someone pays full attention to the other person. This part of conflict resolution strategies demonstrates understanding through nonverbal cues and verbal responses. By actively listening, you can help the other party feel heard and understood.  This may be enough to help de-escalate the conflict.

Use “I” Statements

Using “I” statements to express your feelings and needs in conflict resolution strategies can help avoid blame and accusations. This can help lower the defenses of the other parties involved and show that you’re more open to finding a resolution. 

Instead of saying, “YOU always interrupt me in meetings,” try saying, “I feel frustrated when I’m interrupted in meetings, as it makes it difficult for me to contribute my ideas.”

Seek To Understand Others

Conflicts often arise due to misunderstandings and differing perspectives. By trying to understand the other person’s perspective, you can identify any misunderstandings and find common ground. Finding common ground with conflict resolution strategies can lead to lasting resolutions for everyone. 

Focus On the Issue, Not The Individual

Keeping the focus on the root issue at hand can help coworkers avoid making personal attacks. Preventing conflict from escalating into personal attacks can help everyone remain professional and maintain peace throughout the conflict. 

Mediation and Professional Conflict Resolution Assistance

In some instances, it may be helpful to bring in a mediator or outside professional as part of your conflict resolution strategies to facilitate a resolution in the workplace. This may be particularly useful when the conflict is complex or if there is a history of conflict between the parties involved.

The importance of de-escalation

Enacting principles of conflict de-escalation can help your business to effectively manage conflicts in the workplace and maintain a positive and productive environment. Conflicts are a natural part of any workplace, and being proactive in addressing and resolving conflicts can help prevent them from disrupting productivity and morale. 

Conflict resolution strategies for prevention

The following strategies can be helpful in de-escalating workplace conflicts:

Set Boundaries

Communicating your boundaries can help prevent conflicts from arising. Setting boundaries may be setting limits on your availability, saying no when you need to, and setting clear expectations for how you want to be treated.

Practice Empathy

Empathetic workplaces encourage understanding and the sharing of feelings as part of their preventative conflict resolution strategies. By practicing empathy, you can grow to understand the perspective of others. This can help you find ways to resolve the conflict so that it addresses everyone’s needs and concerns.

Take A Break

When conflicts become heated, it can be helpful to take a break.  This gives both parties time to cool down. This may prevent the situation from escalating further. When you give everyone a chance to approach the conflict with a clear head, solutions may become more obvious. 

Use Humor When Appropriate

Using humor can help lighten the mood and diffuse tension when used effectively. However, it’s important to be mindful of the other person’s feelings and not use humor to belittle or dismiss their concerns. Be careful when using humor, and strive to be kind if possible. 

Find Common Ground

Looking for areas of agreement can help your workplace to build upon these commonalities in conflict. This may help shift the focus from the conflict to finding a resolution that works for everyone. Common ground can be the basis for finding lasting conflict resolution strategies. 

Focus on Finding Resolutions

Dwelling on the past or assigning blame can make finding a resolution all the more difficult. However, moving forward can help prevent the conflict from becoming entrenched in your workplace culture. Lingering conflicts can be the most difficult to resolve. Conflict resolution professionals recommend focusing on the future, rather than on past conflicts. 

Trust The Process

De-escalating conflicts in the workplace is a process and won’t happen overnight. It may take time, resources, and effort to build trust and establish a resolution that works for everyone. However, by following the principles of effective conflict resolution and developing sound strategies to implement them, you can effectively de-escalate conflicts and create a positive and productive work environment.

Create A Culture of Respect and Inclusion

The workplace culture you create can increase or reduce the likelihood of conflicts arising. If employees feel valued and supported, workplace morale will thrive. Creating a culture of inclusion may mean promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, creating a positive workplace culture, and encouraging open and honest communication as part of preventative conflict resolution strategies.


De-escalating conflicts in the workplace is vital for maintaining a positive work environment. This may require employees to stay calm and composed, listen actively, use “I” statements, seek to understand the other person’s perspective, focus on the issue rather than the person, and consider mediation or outside assistance. 

Following these conflict resolution strategies and principles and using the right strategies for your work environment can effectively de-escalate conflicts and maintain a positive and productive work environment. Remember, de-escalating conflicts in the workplace takes time. It can take effort from all parties involved to build trust and establish a resolution that works for everyone. 

However, by being proactive in addressing and resolving conflicts, you can create a positive and supportive work environment for your team. If you’re unable to do so, workplace conflict resolution specialists can help your team get to the bottom of their conflicts and find solutions that work for everyone.

Photo by Caio

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