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Conflict resolution strategies for the workplace: 4 key approaches


These 4 crucial conflict resolution strategies include not only dealing with conflict when it happens, but how to prevent it occurring in the first place.

Conflict in the workplace is more common than people may think, no matter where they work. There are people from different types of backgrounds, ages, and various kinds of viewpoints. Therefore, conflict is bound to happen when people from diverse backgrounds get together for forty hours a week.

But, when you are the leader of a team, you may find it challenging to develop conflict resolution strategies in the workplace. Especially when you do not want to blame one person, lose a team member, or make your team feel like you are choosing sides.

The 4 crucial conflict resolution strategies

Luckily there are a few strategies to help smooth out conflicts that happen in the office. This way, you and your team can get that project done without any hostilities. You would be surprised at how a conflict resolution workshop can help you and your employees.

  1. Identify the source of the conflict

The first of the conflict resolution strategies is identifying the source of the conflict. To determine the source of the conflict, you must bring the involved parties together to agree on where the conflict started. You can do this by bringing the parties into a private room and letting each person describe the conflict they are having with the other.

For example, if an employee turns in a project late, but upon discussing it with the team, it is because another employee was distracting them by constantly talking to them, then you have found the source of the conflict. The purpose is not to get someone in trouble but to identify the source so the conflict can be solved.

  1. Practice active listening for conflict resolution

We have all had those bosses to whom we explain a problem, and they cannot seem to get your point. The reason for this is that they are not actively listening. Active listening involves describing back to the person expressing their conflict, what they said and not what you thought they said. Practicing active listening can help avoid assumptions and enable you to solve the conflict because you know the exact problem. And when your employee is explaining their conflict to you, make sure to let them talk out the problem to get their point across.

  1. Brainstorm a conflict resolution

Most bosses will listen to each party and develop a conflict resolution on their own, but a real leader will include their employees in the process. Now, extreme situations where both parties cannot meet on a common ground may require you to make an ultimate decision. But if both parties can agree on at least trying to work out the conflict, it is best to bring both parties into a private area of the workplace and brainstorm how they can meet in the middle to get their tasks done together. A resolution is critical if the employees work closely together to perform their duties.

  1. Preventative conflict resolution strategies

A great way to close out your conflict resolution strategy is to discuss preventative measures that can be implemented so the conflict does not happen again. For example, suppose the employee is constantly talking to another employee. In that case, you can brainstorm a preventive measure that when assignments are due, there should be minimal talking, and once the task is done, the employees can talk to each other. It is wise to put boundaries in place with preventive strategies, but you also do not want to upset morale, so it can be a fine line.

Types of workplace conflict

Experts differentiate between conflicts of one person ( e.g. role or decision conflicts) and conflicts between two or more people ( e.g. distribution, goal, factual and relationship conflicts ). Conflicts can arise among colleagues or between employees and superiors.

Conflicts of roles: a person has to fulfill various functions that trigger contradictions (“servant of two masters”). Priorities have to be set and defended all the time. Conflicts of roles cause strong emotional stress. They are less of a “personal problem”, but are shaped by the organizational structure of the company and the distribution of tasks. A role conflict can be resolved, for example, through changes in responsibilities and an open communication climate.

Decision Conflicts: A person has to make an important decision between two or more options. The situation is not clear-cut; all options have disadvantages. Here it helps to list the advantages and disadvantages of the options and to weight the pros / cons. Another person may be able to advise on the analysis ( e.g. colleague, supervisor).

Distribution conflicts: The competition for scarce resources is often part of everyday working life. Who gets the better job, more recognition, more budget, vacation, etc. ? Distribution conflicts are best resolved when a compromise can be reached between the parties involved. Comprehensible, fair rules for distribution help here.

Conflicts of goals and values: The conflicting parties have fundamentally different values ​​and goals for a problem. You can try exchanging arguments and reaching a common denominator. If this does not provide a solution, the higher-level management is required to make a decision.

Conflicts of matter: The people agree on the goal, but not on the measures to be taken to achieve it. Conflicts of this kind can be avoided by providing comprehensive information aimed at mutual understanding.

Relationship conflicts: They are usually sparked by a specific event in which a person feels personally disadvantaged. Strong emotional behavior is typical of a relationship conflict. The affected person feels hurt or humiliated. The conflict can escalate into bullying. A relationship conflict can only be resolved through the willingness of those involved to communicate objectively and constructively. If the situation gets stuck, neutral advice, e.g. from an external mediator, can help.


Conflicts are not infrequently part of professional life. People with different goals, expectations, values ​​or needs meet in the workplace. Sometimes people have to work together, even if the “chemistry” doesn’t quite fit. In addition, there are time pressure, career plans or personal competitive situations.

What matters is how the situation is dealt with. Unresolved conflicts often become a burden for those affected. They generate stress, anger, fears and damage well-being, ultimately health. This also has negative effects on the company. Well-resolved conflicts, on the other hand, can be beneficial for everyone involved.

Remember, being a team leader comes with many responsibilities, and most good leaders want their team to get along. So, you must handle conflict with ease, grace, and problem-solving skills.

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