Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Co-workers aren’t always going to agree on solutions, directions and other decisions.

Conflict is a normal, even healthy, part of every work environment—however, when it isn’t managed properly, it can cause distrust and discomfort, and over time, interfere with job performance and morale.

What’s the best way to handle conflict in the workplace?

It’s important to take the time to build skills that encourage collaboration.

Employees thrive in a productive, open environment where they feel heard. Conflicts often arise when people are not truly listening to one another.

Active listening and emotional intelligence—the ability to perceive, understand, and appropriately respond to emotions in oneself and others— are skills that can be learned and are essential for dealing with conflict.

Additionally, there are certain tactics, often referred to as conflict management styles, you can use when responding to and resolving issues.

Conflict Management Styles

Avoidance: Evading the matter at hand and failing to address the conflict

Best used when: The issue is trivial or others can solve the problem more effectively
Accommodation: Meeting the needs of others at the expense of your own

Best used when: You realize you’re wrong, or the issue is more important to the other person than it is to you
Competition: Meeting your needs instead of the needs of other people involved in the conflict

Best used when: Quick, decisive action is needed—or important, but unpopular courses of action have to be implemented
Collaboration: Successfully trying to meet the needs of everyone involved without any one person having to give up something

Best used when: Working through hard feelings that have been interfering with an interpersonal relationship, or when both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised
Compromise: Trying to meet the needs of everyone involved; some things must be given up to reach a solution everyone can live with

Best used when: Quick solutions are needed, or if a back-up strategy is necessary when collaboration or competition fail

The next time a meeting heads toward disagreement, consider which conflict management style may help you find a productive resolution.

Dealing with conflict in the workplace can be a healthy and constructive experience—if employees choose to approach it in a positive manner.

Learn How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace

Register online for Beyond Conflict Management and Working with Difficult People—one-day workshops designed to turn workplace conflict into constructive communication.

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