Business is full of surprises and challenges. Often, some obstacles may involve co-workers who can’t seem to get along. Business success or failure can depend on a company’s greatest asset – its employees – and conflict in the workplace directly affects efficient business operations.
Understanding Work Conflicts
Disagreements will happen anytime people are engaged and committed. Skirmishes at work are not necessarily a bad thing when handled constructively. There may be multiple factors that cause hostility among employees, so it is crucial to obtain an initial read on the situation to help resolve the issue and hopefully prevent future conflict. Conflict during change is common and is a good thing because business typically does not improve without conflict.
Handle the Conflict Now
Waiting for a conflict to resolve itself is not a good idea. Inaction often leads to a worse problem. The majority of work conflicts are the result of something not being said as people sit back and wait for the other guy to do something, which usually doesn’t happen. It may not be fun, but fix the problem sooner rather than later.
With a conflict, never assume you have the whole picture. If someone has made you angry or you have trouble understanding someone’s viewpoint, ask them about it. The majority of the time, people have good reasons for what they do, so asking may resolve conflict right on the spot.
Use Language Geared Toward Work Conflict
It is vital to use language that will provide a structure for difficult conversations. Talk that focuses on the problems and not the symptoms while minimizing assumptions and accusations. Here are a few tips to follow:
- Politely ask the other party to talk about the situation.
- Describe the facts of the situation as objectively as possible.
- Apologize for your part in the conflict.
- Appreciate the other person.
- Consider the consequences for the company resulting from the conflict.
- Decide what would be a positive outcome.
- Request immediate actions and implement them promptly.
Some conflicts run deep and may need outside assistance. Mediation, which involves a third party that is trusted by the conflicting parties, may end the dispute. The mediator can be a manager, an HR employee or a co-worker. Mediation also encourages the involved parties to rise above the conflict by taking constructive action.