Published on April 3, 2018
Updated on October 2, 2019
Read time 4 minutes
5 ways to manage workplace conflicts like a boss
It shouldn’t come as a surprise when we find ourselves disagreeing with each other. The world is multifaceted and complex — just when you think you know everything, you find out there’s still more out there to comprehend.
This is why we evolve in the ways we perceive the world. Our opinions differ and evolve over the course of our lives.
Conflict is inevitable, especially in the workplace. We spend as much as 35% of our waking hours at work. Work takes up an enormous part of our daily lives.
For this reason, it is important to make the best of our work environments, and this often means mediating conflicts to maintain peace. Below are a few simple ways to begin doing so.
1. Take prompt action
Avoiding conflict can seem like the best option, especially at the workplace — but this is not usually best. The tendency toward avoidance can stem from all kinds of fears including job security, mistrust in the leadership, or simply, not being taken seriously.
Studies show that only 46% of employees claim to trust their managers.
Unfortunately, workplace conflicts don’t dissolve on their own. Sooner or later, if not managed properly or acknowledged, they may even escalate into severe political ramifications.
For this reason, it’s important to take immediate action to resolve a conflict, no matter how trivial it may seem. The sooner you acknowledge it, the better your chances of finding a solution.
Mike Myatt, Chairman of N2Growth, suggests actively seeking out potential areas of conflict and taking necessary measures before they actually become conflicts. This way, if a disagreement does sprout up, you will be completely prepared.
2. Listen and understand
Another of the most important ways to mediate conflict is to communicate effectively.
When you think of conflict, the basic picture that comes to mind is of two people speaking at the same time and neither listening to the other. In such events, people are so keen on imposing their own ideas that they undermine other parties by not listening.
This leads to a build-up of tension, which only grows worse without proper intervention.
It is important to learn to stay calm and listen. Research has shown that, just by hearing out a different point of view, you may be able to completely revert tensions.
Listening also helps to understand your own ideas in light of a new perspective. Even if you stick to your opinion, it is probable that you will be able to look at it from a different angle and better understand your own thought processes.
3. Be impartial
No matter your personal opinion, keep an impartial demeanor during conflict resolution.
Stating your observations about a conflict early on in a conversation can come across as choosing sides. Instead, encourage all parties to communicate their concerns and have them listen to each other.
By being unbiased, you can gain trust as a problem-solver, and your coworkers may be more willing to share their concerns with you.
Be the moderator and encourage the group to engage in a constructive discussion. By helping them communicate their problems with a structured approach, they may be able to resolve issues on their own without the need for intervention.
4. Focus on value
Every cloud has a silver lining. Encourage your team to focus on the positive side of a disagreement without letting negative emotions consume them.
During disputes, human beings tend to let their negative emotions, such as anger, take over. This clouds our ability to make sound judgments and highlights weakness in sustaining a professional front.
Lianne Lyne, of PLP Coaching, LLC, suggests helping your team to assess their actual intent to have the conversation. Moreover, you can encourage them to take a different perspective on the conversation.
5. Encourage a “pick your battles” mentality
Open and honest communication is always the first route to take. However, the perceptions of problem severity vary from person to person. And, sometimes, it is better to not waste time on issues that can be let go.
Amongst the numerous disagreements that are bound to happen on a daily basis, it is wise to only fight for those that are actually worth it.
This can also avoid unnecessary political battles, which can immensely impact employee productivity.
Ask questions such as “how important is this issue for me?” or “is this important enough for me to spend time on it?”.
This will help your team prioritize their problems.
If letting go is a healthier option, choose that. If the issue is important enough, your team will most likely opt for communication and resolution.
How do you manage workplace conflicts? Share your tips with us in the comments below.
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