Conflicts in the workplace happen. They’re a fact of working life. It can feel pretty crummy when you’re wading through one of these challenges. But, if handled well, workplace conflicts can lead to progress — for the individuals involved and for the business as a whole.
However, if mishandled, they can cause even more problems. Whether your conflict is with a boss, a coworker, or someone you supervise, there are some concrete steps that you can take to help steer things in the right direction.
1. If the problem is personal, resolve it outside of the office.
Having friends at work can be really nice, and an awful lot of romantic relationships have started in the workplace as well. However, if you’ve run into difficulties in such a relationship, you should work hard to stop the conflict from impacting your professionalism. Even though the person is close by, put the problem out of your mind as best as you can until after hours. Also, try not to bring other coworkers in on the issue. If you do want to discuss the problem you’re having with someone else, do so with personal friends. Keep the challenge, and the process of its resolution, as far away from the office as possible.
2. Stay calm — inside and out.
It’s essential that you stay composed when trying to resolve a conflict at work, whether it’s with a team member, your boss, or someone else. It’s more than all right to be passionate about what you do for a living. But, when you’re trying to work through a problem, it’s important to be calm. You’ll be able to think more clearly if you do, and that will help you to resolve the problem more quickly. So, take a few deep breaths, and tackle the problem logically. When you share your ideas and position with others, do so in a relaxed and easy way. This should encourage the other person to meet your tone and match your calm and reasoned approach.
At the heart of a great many conflicts you tend to find the same problem — that one person or another feels misunderstood. It’s natural to want to clarify your position when you’re immersed in one of these challenges. However, don’t forget that you also need to work hard to understand the other person’s position. It can be difficult to exercise our best listening skills when it the midst of a conflict. So, anticipate that challenge and work hard to keep this important objective in mind.
Remind yourself to keep your actions and remarks focused on the problem at hand, rather than on the other person, as you work to calmly and professionally hash out this issue. You’ll resolve the conflict more quickly if you stay focused on it and minimize the digressions. Plus, it’s simply more professional and mature; workplace challenges shouldn’t be taken too personally. So, stay focused on the issue throughout the resolution process.
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5. Remember the definition of a compromise.
One way to understand a compromise is that often when one is reached, both people feel a little disappointed. Of course, both parties should also feel a little satisfied, a bit pleased with how things landed. But, if they’ve met in the middle, they’ve both given a little something up, too. Be ready to give a little more than you’d really prefer. Try to recognize a decent compromise when you see it.
6. Set parameters and organize the resolution process.
No matter who you’re conflicting with, and no matter what the disagreement is about, setting some parameters can help you resolve things more quickly. Pick a time to discuss the matter. (Establish a time you’re going to stop talking about it, too.) And, set some concrete goals and objectives for the meeting. Stay professional. Stay calm. And, be willing to bend and compromise. You’ll be able to settle things and move on more quickly with the help of the right attitude and a little organization.
The way we think about things and the attitude we embrace makes such a big difference in how we feel about our lives. Conflicts happen. They’re normal. And, they really are opportunities for us to learn, to practice, and to demonstrate and improve our abilities. Conflicts give us the chance to grow. If you can manage to remember this throughout this process, you’ll find out just how true it really is.
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