It is impossible to avoid conflict at work. Sooner or later, you will have a disagreement with your boss, or find yourself in the middle of a disagreement between co-workers. How should you handle these situations while getting along with your coworkers? Here are five tips for handling conflict in the workplace:
- Recognize when a conflict exists
- Find out what you can do to resolve the conflict
- Be open-minded
- Be assertive
- Make suggestions
Recognize when a conflict exists
An important part of handling conflict at work is recognizing that it exists. After all, you do not want to assume there is conflict when there actually is none! Walking into a room and feeling tension can be one sign that conflict exists. Hearing arguing from another room could be a more obvious sign of conflict. Whatever the case, be careful to recognize when a conflict exists. Your actions can either help end the conflict or fuel the fire.
Find out what you can do to resolve it
After you recognize that a conflict exists, it is important to take action. You do not want to ignore the conflict. This will only make the problem worse over time. If you find that someone has a problem with you, find out what you can do to resolve it. Often times there is a miscommunication that needs addressed in order to solve the problem. Here are some tips to remember when seeking to resolve a conflict:
- Stay calm. Keep your emotions under control. Take a deep breath if needed before addressing the problem.
- Be open-minded. Listen to the other side of the story.
- Be assertive, or confident, when sharing your side of the story.
- Show respect. Be kind to the other person.
- Focus on resolving the conflict rather than on winning.
- Get Human Resources or a supervisor involved, if necessary.
Recognize that there are two sides to every story. Hear out the person who has a conflict with you and try to understand why the person is upset. After listening and really hearing the other side of the story, express your own side. Remember that if you are open-minded and can consider new ideas toward the situation in this way, it is more likely that your peer will also be open-minded and your conflict will be solved.
Assertive communication is a way of talking to people and expressing thoughts and feelings in a way that helps understanding and in a way that is not hurtful to self or others. After you listen to your peer’s concern, make sure that you respond by stating your case respectfully and politely. This does not mean you should take the blame, however. Be assertive and say what you believe is right, while showing respect to the other person. Use a polite tone of voice and you will increase the chances of your peer listening to you.
After you hear both sides of the story, it is time to plan a resolution to the conflict. Offer some suggestions to correct the problem that occurred. After you discuss what can be done to fix the conflict, make sure that you follow up with what you are supposed to do. Sometimes conflicts can’t be fixed in one step. If this is the case, do what you can to make the situation better and then promise to handle future situations differently. It is helpful for you to make suggestions so that the problem or conflict does not happen again. Sometimes a simple change in communication can go a long way in curbing conflict. Offer several solutions to your peer for handling future situations and ask if he or she has ideas to avoid the conflict the next time around.
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