How to Resolve Conflict at Work

As is true anywhere in life, conflicts with others are bound to occur at work. Conflicts at work fall into three categories. The first category is conflict between two or more employees. The second category is conflict between labor and management. The third category is conflict between employees and customers. While every situation is different, there are strategies for resolving each one of these conflicts to the mutual satisfaction of all parties involved.

resolve conflict inside - 1A conflict at work may be work-related, such as when two individuals disagree on how a task should be done, or it may be personal. Personal conflicts are the most difficult to resolve and are often the most destructive. In some cases, one individual is the source of the conflict. In these situations, the solution may be reassigning the offending individual. Fortunately, there are alternatives that prevent a conflict from going that far.

There are strategies to use when you resolve conflict at work regardless of whom the conflict is between or the reasons behind the conflict.

There are strategies to use when you resolve conflict at work. #SmallBiz #Company Click To Tweet

Strategies for Resolving Conflicts

The first strategy is mutual respect. The second strategy is remaining calm and approaching the conflict without getting upset or being purely guided by emotion, particularly anger. Having a cooling off period is an excellent strategy to ensure a clearer perspective once you return to the issues of the conflict. The third strategy is listening. Allow all parties to share their perspectives. Keep an open mind and be aware of options that may satisfy all parties. The fourth strategy is to not make personal attacks against others. Personal attacks are not helpful to resolving a conflict and, in fact, make the conflict worse. The fifth strategy is to not assign blame. Assigning blame is not helpful. Focus on solving the problem rather than looking for blame or making accusations. Solving the problem is what matters. Above all, do not make the argument personal. A third party neutral mediator is a good way to get a different perspective on a conflict.

To resolve conflict: Keep an open mind. Be aware of options to satisfy all parties. #SmallBiz Click To Tweet

Conflict between Employees

Let’s say that there is a conflict between John and Bob. John and Bob are working together on a project. John feels that Bob is not doing his fair share of the work. Bob feels that John is overbearing and controlling. John and Bob decide to ask Tom to mediate the dispute. Tom patiently listens to both sides and intervenes when John and Bob begin insulting each other. Tom looks at the project and decides that they should divide the work between them in such a way that both John and Bob are doing their fair share of the work. If the conflict persists, they can be assigned to separate teams.

Conflict between Labor and Management

resolve conflict inside - 2There may be a conflict between labor and management. Shelly, a manager, asks Diana, her employee, to work overtime on a weekend. Diana feels that she does not get paid enough to do work on the weekend. Although Diana has worked for Shelly for years, she has not been promoted while other employees have. Shelly listens to Diana’s concerns and realizes that Diana has a justified grievance. Diana agrees to work on the weekend for time-and-a-half pay and a pay raise.

Conflict between A Customer and an Employee

There may also be conflict between a customer and employee. Let’s say Danny, an employee at a retail store, is working on stocking shelves. His manager, Patrick, has complained that he is too slow at completing assigned tasks. A customer, Seamus, comes to Danny asking his help finding an item. Danny tells Seamus that he can’t help him because he has to finish stocking the shelves. Seamus becomes angry because he feels he’s been treated rudely. Danny calmly explains to Seamus that while he is too busy, his colleague Ryan is not. Ryan agrees to help the customer. This resolves the conflict so that everyone’s needs are met. Danny can finish his assignment, Seamus receives assistance finding the item and Ryan has a task to do.

Through listening, being attentive to other’s needs and mutually respectful dialogue conflicts can be peacefully resolved.


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About Charles

Charles Alexander Neal is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire’s creative writing program. He is a novelist, short story writer and locally produced playwright. He also plays the flute and performed with the Cape Fear Community College orchestra.

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