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12 Crucial Strategies To Resolve Conflicts At Work

When you get a group of people together day after day conflict is inevitable. The employees you so carefully screened during hiring interviews aren’t immune, either. They might have had the perfect answers to behavioral questions such as, “How do you handle conflict?” ,”How do you resolve conflicts at work ? “.Unfortunately, polished interview responses don’t guarantee a harmonious workplace.

While it’s a natural human tendency to avoid uncomfortable conflict with others, that tactic won’t work in the long term. It’s like a crazy song you can’t get out of your head. By the time a clash comes to HR’s attention it’s often too late – such as when a valuable employee is quitting. Even seemingly small conflicts can be important because they are often really larger issues.

Here are 12 versatile conflict resolution techniques we can use when asking ourselves how to handle conflict.

Define Acceptable Behavior

You know what they say about assuming. Just having a definition for what constitutes acceptable behavior is a positive step in avoiding conflict. Creating a framework for decisioning, using a published delegation of authority statement, encouraging sound business practices in collaboration and talent management will avoid conflicts.

Having clearly defined job descriptions so that people know what’s expected of them and a well articulated chain of command to allow for effective communication will also help avoid conflicts. Clearly and publicly make it known what will and won’t be tolerated.

Forget About Winning Or Being Right

The only victory when it comes to dealing with conflict at work is a mutual one that results in de-escalation, new common ground, and resolved conflict.

This can be difficult, especially if you have a history of butting heads or disagreeing with a particular individual. But repeated conflict, no matter how small, makes this concept all the more important.

Stay Calm

Nothing gives one so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. The thing that leads to conflict is escalation. What starts people escalating is their anger. Most of us stop listening to understand as we get angry. Instead, we start listening in order to argue back.

Remaining calm is essential for performing these tools. To remain calm, it helps to look at the big picture. If you think about it, most every dispute gets resolved eventually.

Hit Conflict Head-On

While you can’t always prevent conflicts, it has been my experience that the secret to conflict resolution is in fact conflict prevention where possible. By actually seeking out areas of potential conflict and proactively intervening in a just and decisive fashion you will likely prevent certain conflicts from ever arising.

If a conflict does flair up you will likely minimize its severity by dealing with it quickly. Time spent identifying and understanding natural tensions will help to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Talk Together

Set up a time and place so you can talk for an extended span without outside interruptions. When you do meet, each person should have adequate time to say what he or she believes the other party needs to hear. 

Don’t let any individual monopolize the conversations or control the topic. Each person should talk about the disagreements and how he or she feels about the situation. Remember this is not the time to attack or assign blame. Focus on the problem, not your opinion of the other person’s character.

Look For A Root Cause

We know very well that people make mistakes. Concentrating on an individual’s mistake is possible without going as far as to place blame, and you can do so by looking at the point in the process where this mistake was made.

Did this individual have the right information to do their job correctly? Did the checks and balances in your process act as they typically should? Was there some sort of loss of context when information changed hands?

Listen To Understand

Now, picture a dispute in which you were recently involved. Maybe it was this morning leaving the house, with a co-worker or client or even with a family member. As you that experience, ask yourself how much listening was going on. My bet is that any listening was only being done to formulate an argument back to prove your point.

When most of us get into a dispute, the first thing we do is stop listening. Do you really think this can resolve conflicts at work ? The only way to settle a dispute or solve any kind of a problem is to listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Perhaps they will surprise you with reason, or their point is actually true.

The Importance factor

Pick your battles and avoid conflict for the sake of conflict. However if the issue is important enough to create a conflict then it is surely important enough to resolve. If The issue, circumstance or situation is important enough, and there is enough at stake, people will do what is necessary to open lines of communication and close positional gaps. This is one of the important factor to resolve conflicts at work.

Find Agreement

Your conversation primarily will focus on the disagreements, but resolution is possibilities only when you find points of agreement. You should emerge from the experience with some positives instead of all negatives.

Shed light on commonalities. Share examples or instances in which you agree with the other person or can see another point of view. For example if you disagree on new sales tactics, you might share what you liked about the other person’s idea or the motivation to work harder for the team.

Name Your Emotions After Meeting

Naming your emotions helps you to get to that root cause. You may feel angry, upset, maybe even betrayed – but what’s at the heart of those feelings? You may feel angry because key aspects of a decision were not communicated at the right time. 

So you may feel disappointed that you were left out of the loop. This gives you a tangible example, as well as a relatable emotion to aid in your communication and get to the root cause of a conflict.

Accentuate The Positive

It is important to find some commonalities or create them, between you and the person on the other end. It is helpful and empathetic to say, “oh boy, I know what you are going through. I have had a similar situation just recently. Let me see what I can do about this.”

This serves to normalize the situation. It tells someone that he or she is not the only one who has gone through this and that his or her reaction to it is normal. That calms people right away.

Be Confident

You can do this! Many people are afraid of confrontation and shy away from it. I have taught everyone, from housewives and high school grads to named senior partners in law firms and CEOs, how to do these simple steps. The process works. All you have to do is follow the steps. This is one of the important attribute to resolve conflicts at work.

Furthermore, you must do this. Now that you have these tools it is imperative that you do something about it. You owe it to your customers and your coworkers.

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