This is a guest post by James Adams
Conflict resolution is a realistic part of today’s business. Tensions must be defused. Coworkers need to perform at their best. Here are my ten suggestions I have synthesized from my own experience that I believe can help minimize and eliminate such conflicts.
1. Listen: Listening is the most important factor to resolving the workplace conflict. When you listen to the other person’s point of view, your understanding of their viewpoint shifts and grows. When you are involved in an office conflict, listen with an open mind and open ears.
2. Be specific: What specifically makes you angry within the workplace? What is it about that coworker that really sets you on edge? Is it their work ethic? Is it the tone of voice which they say hello in the morning? Do you feel undervalued? You can correct the problem more easily when you have scrutinize specific information.
3. Don’t involve higher-ups: Higher-ups should be a last resort. Don’t immediately turn to them unless there is no other adequate method to resolve your conflict. If higher-ups are your first step, you will be seen as a tattletale. You will be seen as someone who cannot handle their own arguments. Minimize the involvement of the people in charge.
4. Don’t talk when angry: Anger makes tongues looser. You might say things that you will regret later. If someone has pushed you to that level of anger, schedule a time which the both of you are able to talk in a reasonable manner. Always be in control of your words, as words can be twisted later.
5. It may not be you: Have you ever been a little too snappy with a coworker? Have you had bad days which cloud everything in a veil of anger? Make sure that your conflict is not a one time issue. Sometimes, it is best to stay quiet until you determine whether the problem is isolated or escalating.
6. Don’t talk to others: Keep the problem as quiet as possible. Don’t talk to others within the workplace about your issues. If you need to vent, find someone who is outside of the problem like a spouse or a friend. You do not want to assassinate your adversary’s character. You do not need to bring up your dirty laundry with others.
7. Nip it in the bud: When you notice the beginnings of conflict, ask your coworker if you have offended him or her. You might come to a resolution quickly, rather than involving mediators and your supervisors. You might accidentally trip a coworker’s trigger while talking with them.
8. Search for the real problem: Many times, there is something that is deeper than the problem about which you’re arguing. It may strike to the core of the individual. You may have inadvertently said something which set them off. Keep the individual talking about the problem until the both of you determine the core of the argument.
9. Be willing to compromise: There are two sides to every story. A conflict will not be appropriately resolved if one of the people within the conflict feels that the resolution was not equitable. Winning and losing are not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to maintain great relationships to achieve common corporate goals.
10. What is your resolution?: What do you hope to have corrected by going through conflict resolution? If you do not have an overall purpose in mind, you cannot communicate that purpose and ultimately achieve your goal. Start the process by establishing what you don’t want.
Disagreements within the workplace are natural. Most commonly, they are caused by differences in cultures, management styles and generations. Fortunately, workplace stress can be minimized with proper communication.