How to Manage Conflicts at Work

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Workplace conflict is unavoidable when individuals from diverse backgrounds and work styles work together on the same task or project. In addition, workplace conflict is detrimental to a company’s bottom line since it can decrease performance and increase absenteeism.

A study showed that around 85 percent of employees face conflict at work, with the resulting cost to U.S. corporations reaching $359 billion per year. Many factors contribute to conflict, including job stress, a lack of support, conflicts between personalities, and, of course, an unhealthy amount of ego on the part of one or both parties.

Each workplace conflict is unique and demands a different approach. To effectively resolve workplace conflicts, the employees themselves must take the first step to solve the problem with the assistance of their supervisor. However, make sure serious concerns are dealt with correctly and in line with the official guidelines when they arise within the team. 

Here are some suggestions for dealing with disagreement at work.

Get Clarity on the Source of the Conflict

​​In most cases, conflicts do not occur for no apparent cause; they result from a more complex and long-term issue. The first step in fixing a dispute is to determine how it originated. It is critical to ensure that both parties agree on the nature of the issue. Understanding the underlying causes of the problem can help you determine the best course of action to take.

Managers should speak with both employees and understand their respective perspectives. The potential reasons for conflict can include personality differences, minor disagreements, or misunderstandings which can be resolved quickly and easily through dialogue.

However, conflicts caused by bullying, chronic problematic relationships, verbal abuse, harassment, or unethical behavior, should be taken seriously, and the perpetrator should be handled according to your company rules or existing laws. It is critical to identify the root of the dispute to eliminate the source and prevent future conflict.

For example, if the source of the problem is miscommunication, you might consider scheduling more open forums among employees. In these forums, they can express themselves more effectively and avoid miscommunication. In addition, organize additional team-building activities to help them build trust and learn to work together more effectively.

Focus on Behavior and Events, Not on Personalities

The first step in solving a conflict is to face the issue head-on. Instead of focusing on what you like or dislike about the person, focus on specific actions and events that have led to you disagreeing. Rather than generalizing, it is better to describe particular instances or events that led to the conflict. There is a good chance that you and the person in dispute share similar objectives.

For example, both of you have a goal to complete a project and want your team to succeed; you just have a different approach to taking care of it. However, you should recognize that, even if you have other ideas about accomplishing the project’s objectives, your overall objectives should be the same for both parties.

Identify Points of Agreement and Disagreement

Misunderstandings are the most common source of disagreement. This could be due to diverse points of view among individuals, leading to conflicts. First, list the areas where you are in agreement and disagreement. Next, inquire with the other individual about whether they concur with your evaluation. Finally, revise your assessment until you and the individual are both in agreement on the areas of contention.

Work together to find areas of agreement and find a middle ground on the issues that divide you. Focus on the areas where you agree and are open to working on the areas where you disagree. You are not required to agree with the other person every time, but you must acknowledge and respect their point of view.

Agree on a Solution and Preventative Strategies for the Future

When there are several points of contention, you must begin with the most significant dispute. Then, try to agree on the most important issues to each of you in the conflict. Resolving the disagreement as soon as possible frees up your time and energy for more important things.

Workplace conflicts can also be communicated via email, phone, or voicemail. You can use a cloud-based communications system where each phone line and department has its own free virtual voicemail and virtual voicemail for business.

Set up further meetings to carry on the conversation. Participate in the discussions as long as you need to resolve all disagreements. Then, find an acceptable solution for both parties and determine how these solutions should be applies in the future to resolve future conflicts.

Create a Conducive Environment

Employers should strive to create a work atmosphere conducive to reducing conflict among workers. Effectively managing workplace conflict is critical for the success of a company and the performance of an individual.

In order to address and resolve potential issues, make sure you have documented procedures in place. If there are none, perhaps it is time to convene a meeting of stakeholders to develop an organizational policy for resolving conflicts.

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