How to Deal With Conflict in the Office

Conflict is one of the toughest issues one has to deal with in the office. Business bring people together from many different backgrounds. This is good because varying experiences and capabilities enhance the efforts of the team.  However, the differences in and variety of people and experiences can cause conflicts to arise.

Strong leadership evokes respect, authority and a sense of grace.  When leadership is lacking, resentments arise. Trust is essential for any work environment.  Divisiveness, back-biting and internal politics can lead to distrust causing morale and essential  office functions can go downhill fast.

By the same token, a manager's job is not to simply resolve employees' conflicts.  It is to ensure that everyone is respected and understood.  Staff members should be empowered by management to resolve conflict among themselves in a mature, "grown up" way.

Here are some strategies to resolve conflict:  

  1. Ask yourself "Could this reaction be caused by something else?". For example, perhaps the other person has a sick family member and isn't responding to you as she normally would due to these personal circumstances.
  2.  Restate your position politely and respectfully. Avoid being defensive or seeming to    grind your heels in.  This provides the opportunity  to correct misunderstandings.
  3.  Mentally separate the people from the problem.  Realize that most people have good  intentions and aren't trying to cause conflict.  Give others the benefit of the doubt.  Separating the issue from the person helps to maintain good relationships once the  conflict is resolved.
  4. Listen and try to understand the other party's point of view.  Listen first, talk second and be open minded.
  5. Discuss observable FACTS (no opinions or suppositions).
  6. 6. Explore resolutions together and be open to the fact that a third option (other than your opposing positions) may be the best option.

The keys to successfully resolving conflict in the workplace are to be non-confrontational, open minded and respectful and when this happens, everyone wins!