Effectively Handle Workplace Conflict

Posted September 19, 2016

We'd all love to go into work each day knowing people aren't going to argue, but conflict happens and the health of a company is defined in part by how its people handle conflict.

Conflict can often be prevented if a few steps are applied early in a conversation to suppress anger and open up conversation. If a conversation does escalate, using a different set of strategies can help avoid sustained conflict and potential lawsuits.

Keep calm and carry on

Many of us stop paying attention to understand someone else as we get angry. Rather, we start hearing to be able to argue back.

Keeping calm is crucial to keeping a disagreement from turning into a full-blown conflict. To help employees stay calm, ask them to consider future ramifications of their argument. Almost every dispute gets resolved eventually, so in the moment of disagreement, tell those involved to stop and consider that the disagreement will probably be resolved. Then, ask them to start down the path to resolution.

Avoid placing blame

As a leader, placing blame is only useful in resolving a conflict if you assign it to yourself. In general, finding fault does not help if the goal is to solve a problem. It is a disruption and often a damaging one due to the fact that it can make someone feel excluded from the conversation. The key to handling clashes is to focus on solutions, as opposed to pointing fingers. Have those involved concentrate on what they can do to solve the dispute.

Ask questions

In the interest of finding a resolution, it is often helpful to get to the root cause of a conflict by asking questions. However, you don't want to make those involved in the conflict feel like they’re being interrogated so you can assign blame.

Before you begin asking questions, let them know that your intent is to get to the details behind the dispute. Allow people to tell you their version of facts and events, and be sympathetic to all sides of the dispute when people are talking. This allows you to get the most information in the hopes of getting at the root cause.

Offer a range of considerate solutions

People will be more likely to buy into a solution if you make them feel like they have a choice. Offer up several compromises or ways forward that seem reasonable to all parties, and be open to negotiations. Let those involved know that all ideas will be considered.

The goal is to find a win-win solution where people feel like they can walk away from the conflict feeling like they got something out of it. These solutions keep people happy and earn you their respect and appreciation.

At Ambassador, we believe in investing in client/employee partnerships which benefits everyone in the long term.  Contact our great team today to work with a full-service staffing firm!