How to Keep Conflict From Erupting at Work

Conflict at work is something that will happen as long as human beings are involved. But conflict can be managed and dealt with so that it has a positive outcome — you just need to be prepared when it occurs.
Managing conflict effectively can result in better leadership and a stronger team. Your people will feel that they can safely share ideas, which creates the type of environment where productivity and creative thinking thrive. Below are some key strategies that can keep your workplace positive.
  • Catch it when its small. Conflict is something that’s bound to happen in even the most idyllic workplace. When a conflict arises, don’t ignore it and hope it gets better. That’s a recipe for it turning into something bigger than it began. Be proactive and address conflict when it first arise. Small problems are always easier to fix than big ones, conflict has a tendency to rapidly reproduce when not handled quickly.
  • Address it in person. If you’re struggling with an employee, talk to him or her face-to-face. It’s much harder to misinterpret someone who is standing in front of you. Email is not an effective way to address conflict, since recipients don’t have the benefit of hearing your tone or body language.
  • Put on their shoes. The natural human tendency is to view a conflict from only one perspective: yours. Try to put yourself in the place of the other person. How does he or she view the situation? What is he or she looking to gain from the conflict? Many times a win-win is possible. If you understand what the other person needs to gain, you’re in a much better position to figure out how that can happen while still achieving your own objective.
  • Keep the conversation going. Even if you can’t solve the conflict on the first go around, don’t cut the other person off and isolate yourself. Sometimes conflicts don’t have an easy resolution. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with agreeing more work needs to be done. If you keep talking, often resolutions come about as a natural part of communication.

Conflicts are inevitable, but they don’t have to end in something negative. Effective leaders anticipate conflicts and have plans in place to deal with them when they arise. Putting these strategies to use in your next workplace conflict can help bring a constructive, positive ending to the situation.

Published on June 23rd, 2015 in Blog

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