How to Handle Conflict at Work

Conflicts will always arise at the workplace. Irrespective of how much we hate it, it is a universal truth that there is no organization in the world which is free of conflict.

It may be a small matter that can be easily resolved, or it may be a major conflict that threatens the existence of the business entity. This does not mean that the organization has to be in a chaotic state at all times. Conflict can be the beginning of interesting relations at work. The managers have to be meticulous in dealing with it. They must do so in a manner that is fair to all and the means used to arrive at a solution must be void of bias or prejudice.

workplace conflict
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Here are a few tips that are useful in minimizing and handling work related warfare.

1. Define what is acceptable

This is the first step in avoiding unnecessary rivalry. Ensure that all employees understand the kind of behavior that is expected of them. Clearly define a framework that highlights code of ethics. Let them know what will not be tolerated. In the same light ensure that everyone’s job description is crystal clear to avoid situations where there is conflict arising from ambiguity in roles. This framework should be used whenever there is a conflict, and the employees have to be aware of its existence. The policies which have been set up have to be utilized as the basis for conflict resolution.

2. Deal with conflict as soon as it arises

Tugs of war at the workplace should not be ignored for too long. Ignoring such clashes will only give them time to flare up. It may spread like bushfire, and before you know it, it is all over the organization. This particular reason necessitates prompt confrontation of the conflict before it goes out of control. Do not let it escalate to a level where you cannot effectively deal with it. Do not bury your head in the sand. A few conflicts will calm down naturally, but most conflicts do not die down without some sort of intervention.

3. Listen to all parties and then act

It is only fair that both parties are accorded an audience before action is taken. Sometimes it is not necessary to do so, especially when it is quite obvious that one party is on the wrong. However, it is only right that both sides of the dispute are heard so as to arrive at a conclusion that is free and fair. Listen to what each party has to say before taking any serious action. Ascertain the facts and then act accordingly.

4. Request a third party to intervene

Whenever there is a conflict, it is important to ask an impartial third party to mediate. This is particularly important when you have made attempts to resolve the conflict without any significant progress. A third party will bring in some fresh ideas and give the parties concerned a notion that someone has listened to them, which is a crucial step towards healing.

5. Aim at finding a lasting solution

The idea behind conflict resolution is to come up with a lasting solution. You have to be solution oriented. As much as you acknowledge the problem, you have to suggest possible solutions which will bring the dispute to an end once and for all. This will help the parties to open up as they give their opinions about the suggested solutions, which should improve the situation.

6. Keep emotions away from the process

The greatest mistake people make is to let their emotions interfere with their decisions. The same applies while solving conflicts. Emotions will only aggravate a bad situation. Try to remain sober and to think as straight as possible. Ensure that emotions are kept off the bay so that they do not interfere with the process.

About the Author: Suzan Morley has over 10 years of HR experience.