When conflict arises in the workplace, team members may feel tense, anxious, and even afraid of what might happen next. It’s natural to feel some stress when you’re caught in a difficult situation with someone you work with every day. Resolving conflict constructively is the best way to avoid negative effects on team dynamics and productivity that can arise from unresolved conflict. There are several theories of conflict resolution that can guide your efforts to move past your differences and continue working together productively.
Approaches to conflict resolution
These are some common conflict resolution approaches that can help you get through challenging situations:
- Collaborative Problem Solving – When you’ve been working with someone for years, you may have some issues that are left unaddressed. Collaborative problem solving can help you get past these issues and build a stronger working relationship.
- Mediation – When you feel someone else’s opinion is biased or their approach to problem-solving is too rigid, mediation may be the most effective approach. A mediator will help you resolve your differences but will remain neutral.
- Peer Coaching and mentoring – When you can’t resolve the conflict with your direct supervisor, you’ll want to seek help from someone who’ll be able to give you objective guidance.
- Dialogue and consensus-building – When your differences are rooted in fundamental disagreements, you’ll want help to manage the conflict as it emerges.
Tips for resolving workplace conflicts constructively
– Listen carefully. Listening carefully is the best way to understand where the other person is coming from. People are often so focused on their own ideas and feelings that they don’t really hear what the other person is saying.
– Empathize with the other person’s situation. Even if you don’t agree with their goals or approach, try to understand where they’re coming from. It’ll help you find a solution that makes sense for both of you.
– Assume good intentions. Most workplace conflicts happen because people aren’t communicating clearly, or because a situation escalated before anyone took a moment to think about it. Assume that the other person didn’t intend to upset you.
– Stay calm and collected. When you feel emotional, it’s easy to say things you’ll regret later. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before responding.
When you know how to deal with conflict and can stay calm, focused, and constructive when things get difficult, you’ll be able to get through almost any situation. Conflict is never pleasant, but resolving it constructively can help you build stronger relationships, get more done, and feel more satisfied with your work. The next time you find yourself in the middle of a difficult situation, use these tips to get past your differences and get back to work!