Smoothing the Creases: 5 Ways to Manage Conflict in the Workplace
Let’s face it: there is no such a company where literally everyone agrees with each other and where conflicts do not rise. Armed with this realization, what matters isn’t only how you’ll be able to keep the misunderstandings among coworkers to a minimum but also how to address them once the inevitable happens. After all, management isn’t solely about ensuring that your operations are running smoothly; it also entails dealing with internal conflicts that you or any of your subordinates get entangled with.
People may have different reasons that drive them to turn a simple misapprehension into an ugly dispute. When this happens, you need to stay levelheaded and know what exactly you should do when you finally tackle the issue. Here then are five crucial techniques that will help you polish how you handle conflicts that occur in the workplace.
1. Approach the problem sans judgment.
When faced with a difficult situation, it’s normal for people to form theories and come up with assumptions. This is where the instinct to analyze kicks in and this impulse should be something that is utilized when settling conflicts. But to make the process of conflict management an objective one, it would help if you lay any biases aside and examine the situation as fairly as possible. By keeping an open mind, it will be easier for you to look into all the possibilities that caused the problem and to eventually sort it out.
2. Listen and observe
Once you sit down with either or both of the parties involved, it’s important that you apply the art of listening. Pay close attention to their stories and take heed of context clues and underlying messages. The thing with conflict management is that despite earnest intentions to solve a problem, you can’t always expect them to tell you the whole truth.
There might be details that are too mortifying to admit and then there could also be people who might risk bending the truth just to save face. Thus, you also need to observe their body language to help you assess if they’re being honest as they explain themselves.
3. Remain professional
Conflicts that occur in the workplace aren’t limited to work-related disputes. Every now and then you will encounter personal issues which at times can be more taxing to detail, much less settle. Nevertheless, it’s critical that you assume a professional stance when addressing friction between your subordinates.
Regardless of the nature of the problem, you and your staff need to remember that you all need to uphold a high moral ground despite their sentiments. A lot of problems can also stem out from difference of opinion and can lead to a messier and possibly irrelevant argument. When this happens, you need to keep in mind that it’s wiser to respect distinctions instead of trying to strong-arm others to subscribe to other people’s beliefs.
4. Involve a disinterested party
Emotions, especially when people are high-strung, can easily blur one’s judgment. It’s also typical for people to defend themselves regardless of where they stand in the argument. With this in mind, you can expect that contesting parties will inevitably stick to their biases until they are proven wrong, and this doesn’t even happen all the time.
be difficult for you to mediate alone so consider asking the help of another person in the company that is disinterested in the conflict. It may be the human resources manager, a fellow manager, or even a lawyer if there are legal issues involved. This way, it’ll be easier for you to get to the bottom of things and arrive at a plausible solution.
5. End it with an arrangement
The success of the intervention depends on how serious the conflict is. While misunderstandings and petty disagreements may be punctuated by a sincere apology, severe clashes aren’t easy to just drop and forget. Nevertheless, you need to conclude the intercession with a solution or a compromise.
You need your colleagues to know that while conflicts can happen, the company wishes to sustain a working environment that is conducive not just for efficiency but also camaraderie. Do not wrap up the mediation without coming up with a solution that works for both parties. Grave offenses that require legal counsel should also be addressed and don’t think twice about drafting the paperwork when a disciplinary action is necessary.
No manager in his or her right mind would wish for conflicts to begin in the office. But as they are inevitable, it’s critical that you develop the skills of problem-solving and practice within yourself the skill of listening. Managing conflict in the office calls for both wisdom, and compassion and the sooner you embrace these characteristics, the better you will be at resolving discord in the workplace.