Working with a diverse team of coworkers is often an open invitation for conflicts to arise. Different points of view, varied work styles, lack of communication and even personal problems can all be causes of workplace discord.
Usually people respond in two ways… one is to avoid conflict at all costs. But, this only serves to cause someone to withdraw or shut down, so there is no way to actually resolve a problem. The other way is an angry or agitated response. This response only makes the current situation more intense and blows the problem way out of proportion.
Either option can cause the job site to suffer. Angry or frustrated people are not focused on the work they are doing and can make critical mistakes, which at the very least will cause more work for someone else, and at the worst may cause physical harm.
Learning some simple ways to resolve conflict can help defuse a difficult situation and get employees and coworkers back on track.
Here are 4 points to consider when attempting to resolve a conflict:
- Make solving the problem the priority as opposed to “being right”.
Winning the argument isn’t going to solve the problem. Be clear about what the issue is, stating and restating if necessary exactly what you are trying to accomplish. Be respectful of others’ viewpoints. Offer some specific solutions and allow the other person, without interrupting or criticizing, to offer their input as well. Avoid assigning blame and prolonging the battle.
- Listen carefully.
Sometimes the problem may not be what is actually being said. An argument with a family member or a personal financial problem can cause a person to lash out at a coworker when they really aren’t mad at them. By taking time to really listen, we can connect with the real issue and offer encouragement and understanding. A calm voice and demeanor can defuse conflict a lot quicker and better then a loud and angry response.
- Focus on the here and now.
Holding on to grudges or past resentments will impair your ability to address the current situation. Stay focused on solving the problem at hand instead of viewing the situation as an opportunity to bring up past confrontations or problems.
- Know when to let it go.
Conflicts can be emotionally draining and time consuming. If you see that a resolution is not forthcoming, then offer up the compromise of agreeing to disagree. And, if all else fails, considering bringing in a neutral third party to help diffuse the situation.
Sometimes you can’t solve the problem completely, but having some tools to use in working out a solution can go a long way to creating a more harmonious work environment and establishing more effective relationships on the job.