(Photo Credit: BiblioArchives/Flickr)
According to Abilene Christian College’s infographic below, “U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict," costing them a great deal of stress, time, and happiness in the workplace. So, how can you prevent these ugly work situations from negatively affecting your promising career with your current employer? The next time you feel tension building between you and a colleague, use these nine steps to effectively deal with the situation and prevent a full-blown war:
- Recognize that conflict happens – Conflict indicates that colleagues are engaging, which is a plus in the workplace.
- Don’t wait for the explosion – The key is to deal with tension early on before it erupts into something irreversible and detrimental to morale.
- Know your issue – Is your conflict worth escalating to a superior? It is if “it affects the quality of your work […] and it affects your ability to work.”
- Foster flexibility and compromise – Approach the disagreement with the expectation of knowing that compromise and finding a solution are much better than wanting to be right.
- Keep it professional, not personal – Don’t take the issue too personally because then unnecessary emotions tend to be added to the mix and make the argument much bigger than it needs to be.
- Use your ears – Try to be an active listener when conflict arises, because there may be a chance the issue was a big misunderstanding. Also, allowing the other person the chance to clarify indicates that you’re open to a resolution. “76 percent of employees have seen conflict lead to something positive.”
- Turn down the heat – If the conversation becomes too heated, try and take a step back and gain perspective. Throwing more emotions and hostility to the argument is like fighting fire with fire.
- If all else fails, mediation – When the conflict hits a dead end and is still unresolved, it’s best to get third-party mediator (un-biased co-worker, manager, or HR employee) to assist in the matter.
- The best solution: Prevention – Following the company’s protocol for conflict management, if any, is best. If there is no such policy or process, then approach your HR department and ask about implementing one because, according to the infographic, “95 percent of employees who received conflict management training said that it helped them in some way.”
(Infographic Credit: Abilene Christian University/Visual.ly)
Nip workplace conflict in the bud before it explodes into a nasty, morale-killing cancer that spreads to the entire office. Typically, disagreements amongst co-workers can be easily resolved with proper and timely communication, rather than everyone remaining quiet and marinating in animosity and anger. Approach each conflict with the expectation of producing a win-win resolution that will benefit everyone.
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