Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict happens. Differences of opinion and different work styles can create problems, straining relationships between coworkers and reducing their efficiency and productivity. They may become unmotivated and dread coming into the office. But if properly handled, conflict can also be an opportunity to move toward a better organized work environment.

Below are some steps to help managers avoid and resolve conflict in the workplace:

Communication

Clear communication plays an important role in avoiding conflicts in the workplace. Be very clear and specific with your message and communicate in a way that everyone can understand. When talking with or emailing your colleagues, make sure they understand everything being discussed, as misunderstandings can lead to more problems in the future. Ensure that all necessary information is being properly conveyed to avoid this.

Clarify Misunderstandings

When conflicts arise, bring both parties together and let them have a professional and respectful conversation. Make sure each party understands the other’s point of view. At the end of the discussion, make sure an agreement of some sort has been reached and any misinterpretations are addressed.

Consider All Sides

Speak with each party individually to understand the issue behind the conflict. Ask them for suggestions on how to best avoid this situation in the future. After hearing everyone out, analyze the feedback and focus on the problem itself rather than the specifics of who did what. Any action taken should be with the goal of improving the overall work environment. Meet again with the parties involved and provide your solution. Be impartial and emphasize what’s best for the company in order to avoid future complications.

Eliminate Negative Feelings

Solve the problem in a manner that helps both parties feel like the issue has been resolved in an acceptable manner, ideally with no lingering bitter feelings. Everyone should be satisfied with the solution so that the work environment remains a respectful and friendly place.

Be Cooperative

Everyone has their own way of working and accomplishing tasks. Don’t impose your ideas on others and instead consider their views. Avoid bias, treat everyone equally, and be fair with all your employees and coworkers. Bring it to their attention when they make mistakes, but also applaud them for a job well done. If you make mistake, apologize, and accept your part in causing the problem. Never assume any conflict is insignificant; always try to solve it as soon as possible, rather than letting it fester. Try using written notes or emails to help your peers understand the solution to a problem. And always keep the bigger picture in mind.

Structure

Encourage collaboration. Create a structure that facilitates teamwork and requires staff to work together to complete tasks. This is one of the most effective conflict-resolution techniques and it will make employees realize the importance of working as a team to support each other.

Regardless of the specific workplace, everyone expects a friendly and healthy setting when they’re doing their job. It’s everyone’s responsibility to create a positive work environment. It eliminates stress and keeps employees cheerful. More importantly, it brings out the best in people on a daily basis and helps increase productivity.

U. Lakhia

How to Have a Difficult Conversation with an Employee

It’s never easy to have a difficult conversation in the office, especially if you’re deathly afraid of confrontation. However, it’s impossible to manage a company and not have to approach an employee at some point about their behaviour, insubordination, or work quality, and sometimes even terminate them. Brushing the issue under the rug or simply ignoring it can make the situation worse and negatively affect the workplace, productivity, and other employees. There are several different types of difficult conversations that you might need to have at some point, including policy breaches, coworker complaints, dress code violations, and even workstation cleanliness. As a manager or supervisor, it’s important to know the proper way to handle these conversations, or it could do more harm than good.

Prepare Yourself
Before deciding to have the conversation, get prepared by asking what the behaviour is that’s causing the problem, and what outcome from the behaviour is impacting you, the team, the environment, etc. You need to have an understanding yourself before providing clarity to someone else about the issue. This will also keep the focus on the issue and avoid derailing the conversation.

Choose an Appropriate Location
Before entering the conversation or even calling for a meeting with the individual, decide where it will be held. Finding the right location will set the tone of the meeting. Your office is usually the best place, but depending on your company culture, it might ease the tension if you talk over a cup of coffee or lunch at a food court in the building or nearby; this can lessen the chances of the employee feeling embarrassed. However, if it’s a more formal conversation, your office, a conference room, or a boardroom is probably the most appropriate place.

Leave Your Emotions at the Door
When starting the conversation, be straightforward and tell the individual what the purpose of the meeting is. Be sure to not get caught up in your emotions; keep your feelings in check and don’t let them drive the conversation. Focus on the facts and be careful not to say things like, “I feel disappointed,” which will only add biased emotional elements. It also helps to be aware of your preconceived notions about the situation and the person involved, so make sure to leave that at the door as well.

Be Open and Listen
Be calm and fair during the discussion. Don’t project anger or judgment because that may result in the employee getting defensive and things might get heated. Find a balance between polite and firm; be caring but remain professional. It’s important to be open to hearing what the other person has to say. Be mindful and treat them with respect, even if you completely disagree with them.

Brainstorm
It’s important that you brainstorm solutions during the meeting. Ask the employee in question what they think will work. Out of their ideas or suggestions, build on something you like. Asking for their point of view can create a safe atmosphere and encourage them to engage.

Always Follow Up
Following up after the conversation is a good way to smooth over the relationship between you and your employee. It’s also a good way to check up on their progress if there are any changes they need to make. Don’t micromanage, but keep track of how they’re doing, for as long as you think is necessary. If progress needs to be made, there is a possibility they might backslide.

Putting off a difficult conversation will only do more damage to your business. Holding off on speaking to an employee about their performance or attitude won’t help productivity and might even affect the rest of your team. Practice these tips and prepare your points so that you can mentally prepare and be more effective, confident, and comfortable with having difficult conversations. That way, you can get everyone on your team working together and at their highest potential.

 

Helen Jacob | Staff Writer

Five Conflict Resolution Practices

The following conflict resolution practices are helpful in managing disputes anywhere including in the workplace, relationships or other situations where negotiation is needed. Although these steps can’t guarantee a solution, they will certainly increase the chances. By understanding the issue, exploring the options and considering the advantages of a negotiated agreement, you are building a constructive environment for resolutions. Follow these practices to reduce the stress, fear and shock factors of dealing with conflict.

Self assessment

Before you can approach conflict management, you need to be aware of and understand your perceptual filters, biases and triggers. By being aware of these things, you allow yourself to be more prepared mentally, emotionally and physically to respond in an ideal way. Also, ensure that you are taking care of yourself by getting sufficient sleep, exercising, and eating properly. This will help you express your needs clearly and listen well.

Take a listening stance

As quoted by Stephen R. Covey, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We often tend to “push” when dealing with conflict. It is important that we resist the urge to push and channel our efforts into active listening. This significantly improves the chances that both parties will be able to clearly express and understand each other’s ideas and feelings.

State your needs clearly and specifically

It’s sometimes challenging to clearly express your concerns so that they are understood by the other person. It’s important to use assertive communication, which is the process of conveying one’s needs clearly while respecting the needs of the other party. Just because you have taken a listening stance doesn’t mean that the other person will be able to do so. This may result in a back and forth discourse so it’s essential to not rush the process. In this case, it is important that you hang on and maintain a listening stance. Calmly build from what you have heard and listen well before asserting your needs.

Solve problems with flexibility

When resolving a conflict, it’s important that both parties take one issue at a time and begin with the simplest discussion. Collaborate and brainstorm more than one solution to the problem; doing so will avoid the possibility of judgements and evaluations of potential solutions (a.k.a. the “chilling effect”.) The best solutions are made when mutually acceptable criteria are applied to the decision-making process. Sometimes you may need to be open to other concerns that are beyond your control but it shouldn’t become a tangent. Ensure that the discussion is on track and be sure to summarize the agreement.

Build a working agreement

Finally, it’s crucial to bring everyone onto the same page. As you come to a conclusion, identify and review the agreement to confirm fairness. Make sure that everyone has agreed to implement the solution that was determined together. Also, check back on the agreement so any concerns can be voiced and that all parties are fully satisfied.

 

K. Nwankwo | DBPC Blog

Five Conflict Resolution Practices

 

The following conflict resolution practices are helpful in managing disputes anywhere including in the workplace, relationships or other situations where negotiation is needed. Although these steps can’t guarantee a solution, they will certainly increase the chances. By understanding the issue, exploring the options and considering the advantages of a negotiated agreement, you are building a constructive environment for resolutions. Follow these practices to reduce the stress, fear and shock factors of dealing with conflict.

Self assessment

Before you can approach conflict management, you need to be aware of and understand your perceptual filters, biases and triggers. By being aware of these things, you allow yourself to be more prepared mentally, emotionally and physically to respond in an ideal way. Also, ensure that you are taking care of yourself by getting sufficient sleep, exercising, and eating properly. This will help you express your needs clearly and listen well.

Take a listening stance

As quoted by Stephen R. Covey, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We often tend to “push” when dealing with conflict. It is important that we resist the urge to push and channel our efforts into active listening. This significantly improves the chances that both parties will be able to clearly express and understand each other’s ideas and feelings.

State your needs clearly and specifically

It’s sometimes challenging to clearly express your concerns so that they are understood by the other person. It’s important to use assertive communication, which is the process of conveying one’s needs clearly while respecting the needs of the other party. Just because you have taken a listening stance doesn’t mean that the other person will be able to do so. This may result in a back and forth discourse so it’s essential to not rush the process. In this case, it is important that you hang on and maintain a listening stance. Calmly build from what you have heard and listen well before asserting your needs.

Solve problems with flexibility

When resolving a conflict, it’s important that both parties take one issue at a time and begin with the simplest discussion. Collaborate and brainstorm more than one solution to the problem; doing so will avoid the possibility of judgements and evaluations of potential solutions (a.k.a. the “chilling effect”.) The best solutions are made when mutually acceptable criteria are applied to the decision-making process. Sometimes you may need to be open to other concerns that are beyond your control but it shouldn’t become a tangent. Ensure that the discussion is on track and be sure to summarize the agreement.

Build a working agreement

Finally, it’s crucial to bring everyone onto the same page. As you come to a conclusion, identify and review the agreement to confirm fairness. Make sure that everyone has agreed to implement the solution that was determined together. Also, check back on the agreement so any concerns can be voiced and that all parties are fully satisfied.

 

K. Nwankwo | DBPC Blog

Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict happens. Differences of opinion and different work styles can create the problems. This strains the relationship between coworkers and reduces their efficiency as well as their productivity. They may become demotivated and dread coming into the office. But conflict can be an opportunity to more toward a better organized work environment if properly handled.

Below are some steps to help in avoiding or resolving conflict in the workplace:

Communication
This plays an important role in avoiding conflicts in the work place. Be very clear and specific with your message and communicate in a way that everyone can understand. When talking with your colleagues, make sure they understand all the information, since misunderstandings can lead to more problems later on. Provide all necessary data to avoid this.

Clarify Misunderstandings
When conflicts arises, bring both parties together and let them have a professional and respectful. Make sure each part understands the other’s point of view. At the end of the discussion, make sure an agreement should be established and that any misinterpretations are addressed.

Consider All
Speak with each party individually to understand the issue behind the strife. Ask them, what their suggestions are to avoid this situation in the future. After listening to them, analyze and focus on the problem itself rather than who did what. Aim to improve the work environment. Meet again with the parties involved and provide your solution to the problem. Be impartial and focus on what’s best for the company in order to avoid future complications.

Eliminate Negative Feelings
Solve the problem in a manner that helps both parties resolve their bitter feelings. Everyone needs to be satisfied with the solution, so that the work environment will remain friendly and respectful.

Be Cooperative
Everyone has their own ways of working and accomplishing tasks. Do not ignore this and let them express their opinions. Do not impose your ideas on others and instead of consider their views. Avoid bias, treat everyone equally and be fair with all your employees or co-workers. Bring it to their attention when they make mistakes but also applaud them for a job well done. If you make mistake, apologize and accept your part in causing the problem, everyone involved in the conflict has done something knowingly or unknowingly, so try to see the bigger picture. Never assume any conflict is insignificant. Always try to solve it as soon as possible, don’t let it fester. Try to always use written notes or emails to help your peers understand the solution to a problem.

Structure
Encourage collaboration. Create a structure of team work that requires staff to work together to complete tasks. This is one of the most effective conflict resolution techniques and will make the employees realize the importance of working as a team to support each other.

Wherever you work, everyone expects a friendly and healthy environment. It’s everyone’s responsibility to create a healthy office environment. It eliminates stress and keeps employees cheerful. More importantly, it brings out the best in people on a daily basis and helps increase productivity.

 

U. Lakhia | DBPC BLOG