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Workplace conflict kills productivity – here’s how to handle it


This concise guide outlines several strategic ways to deal with workplace conflict and prevent it from undermining relationships and productivity.

Each and every one of us gets into conflict with other people now and then. No matter if we’re talking about relationships, friendships, or professional relationships, workplace conflict will happen eventually. They are sometimes caused by frustration, discomfort, anger, and many other emotions. Conflicts are normal, though, and it’s our job to work them out and improve our relationships and communication further.

However, when conflicts keep happening at the office, and if they are not resolved on time, they can create huge problems for the company. That’s why workplace conflict management is one of the most important aspects of running and growing a business. Ignoring workplace conflict can cause serious damage that could ruin the company’s reputation and damage its workflow.

How to handle workplace conflict

Keep reading, and we will give you a few tips that will help you handle workplace conflict and make sure that your business can keep evolving and growing.

Pinpoint the Source of the Problem

Before you can start fixing workplace conflict, you have to understand what caused the problem in the first place. Get the two conflicted sides to agree on what the source of the workplace conflict is and ask both sides what made them fight back. Then, create a common middle ground and make sure everyone comes to a mutual understanding.

Tell both sides what the other side thinks and provide them with all the information you can. Keep asking questions and leading the conflicted employees to the point where they understand clearly what issue led to the workplace conflict.

Find a Place Where You Can Talk in Private

When you finally reach the point where you can discuss the issue with each person in the workplace conflict, you should first find a safe place to do that. It needs to be a place where you can speak your mind without anyone else eavesdropping on the conversation. It can be any place at all, as long as it’s private, except for the office. Once you’re done discussing the issue, leave enough breathing room for the other party to recuperate and think about everything that happened.

Be a Good Listener and Make Sure Everyone Expresses Themselves

After both sides agree to meet and after you find a suitable place where they can talk, allow them to blow off some steam first. Let them say what they have to say but act as a filter between them. Lead the conversation by asking questions and give them advice as you go. Both parties should have enough time to share their thoughts about the issue, and you must make sure that you don’t take anyone’s side. Try to be as objective as possible.

Doing so will encourage both sides to put some effort into explaining what their problem is, and once they get it out, you will get a better understanding of the entire problem. Then, make sure that everyone understands what the cause is and look for a suitable solution.

That process takes a little practice to master, and sometimes there’s nothing wrong with asking for professional help. Something like a TKI package can help you get a better idea of how to handle workplace conflict.

Investigate the Problem

Ok, by this time, you’ve heard what both parties have to say, so it’s time to check the facts. You can’t start pointing fingers without any evidence, right? Try to dig deeper and check if what both parties said is true. Ask them how they feel in 1 on 1 conversation with each of them and try to put yourself in their shoes.

Summarize what they said and then repeat everything in your own words to see if you got it right. The idea is to find the underlying problem of the workplace conflict, which is usually never even mentioned. Some people are bullies, and they use every situation to cause conflict. If that’s the case, make sure that they understand that the company doesn’t tolerate that kind of behavior.

Define a Common Goal and Make Both Sides Agree

The only real way you can resolve workplace conflict and make sure that it doesn’t happen again is to find a common objective. However, there are a number of strategies you have to master before you can find the right solution. After you hear what both sides have to say and investigate the problem, you must sit down with both parties and find a way to resolve the matter. Everyone present should put their heads together and communicate about all options.

Find the Best Solution and Give Both Parties Responsibilities

You must make sure that all parties understand that they have a common goal, which is meeting the company’s objectives. After considering all the possible solutions, both sides have to realize which solution is best for everyone involved. Find some common ground and make sure that both parties understand their role in resolving the conflict. When they finally get on board, use the situation to root out the problem for good.

The Bottom Line

Conflicts are never a good thing, and they always have a negative effect on productivity. That’s why you must learn how to manage workplace conflict and develop strategies that will help you find a common ground in a hostile environment.

Remember that workplace conflict will always happen, but the way you handle them will determine how well your employees do their jobs. With a little practice and the right management, you’ll be able to resolve all conflicts quickly without putting your company’s productivity in jeopardy.

About Rosalind Cardinal

Rosalind Cardinal, known as ‘The Leadership Alchemist', is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a consulting practice in the field of Organisational Development and Human Resources. She has coached clients at Executive and Senior Levels in government agencies, private enterprises, and the community sector and is a sought-after speaker and expert at conferences and events. Visit Shaping Change to learn new strategies and game-changing ideas toward becoming a better leader and to download Ros’ free e-book on leadership.

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