Deal With Workplace Conflict?
Tips for Managing Workplace Conflict
Direct Discussion - How to Approach a
Co-worker Why We Avoid
Dealing With Conflict
Are All Conflicts the Result of Personality
Clashes or Poor Behaviour
Communicating in Conflict
Managing Anger - Yours and Others
Being Hard on the Problem - Not the Person
The Role of Assumptions, Perceptions and
Expectations in Conflict
Direct Discussion – How to Approach a Co-Worker
Don’t talk to your colleague in anger
Do not engage in a discussion while
feelings are escalated; when you are angry your ability to use
rational, problem-solving skills is impaired. Remove yourself from
any situation where feelings are high and take the time to cool down
and reflect. To find out more about the role of anger and how it can
be channelled in productive ways review the section on
Managing Anger – Yours and Others.
Analyze and think about the
Spend some time determining what the
issues or problems are from your perspective. Try to consider the
situation from the other employee’s perspective and what their wants
or needs might be.
Separate the issues from the person -
plan how to discuss the problem in a non-blaming manner.
Being Hard on the Problem – Not the Person
has useful pointers on analyzing the conflict and preparing to
address the issues.
Often conflict is fuelled by
inaccurate assumptions, misperceptions, and unmet expectations. For
assistance in understanding the dynamics of a current conflict
consult The Role of Assumptions,
Perceptions and Expectations in Conflict.
Set time to have a discussion
Arrange a meeting with the co-worker
when you both have some time. Let him/her know that you wish to
discuss the working relationship. Express your desire to have a good
working relationship and to tackle issues that emerge jointly.
Use good communication skills. While
being an effective communicator is always important, in conflict
situations it becomes even more important.
Communicating in Conflict
skills to be used in any conversation where there is conflict.
Be ready to listen
Be open to hearing from the other
person about their concerns. It is usually not a one-way street. The
old adage that it “takes two to tango” often applies to conflict
situations. We may be unaware of how we are contributing to the
situation or how others perceive our behaviour.
Keep in mind that striving to
understand the situation from the other person’s perspective does
not mean that you share that perspective or agree with it. Conflict
is not resolved by arguing with someone regarding what happened.
Resolving the conflict involves understanding the other person’s
perspective and having the other person understand yours. It also
involves knowing what each person wants and needs in relation to the
Work together to solve the problem
Get the other person involved in
solving the problem with you. Identify possible solutions and assess
which option works best for both of you. Be open. This is not about
getting the other person to agree to a solution you have already
chosen. To really solve the problem it needs to be a mutual, sincere
process of identifying, exploring and evaluating options in relation
to what each person needs and wants.
If workplace problems that you and
your colleague cannot solve are producing conflict in the working
relationship identify the proper arena for addressing the issue,
e.g. a department meeting, discussion with a supervisor or your
Don’t vent to others - keep the
Imagine if you heard from a co-worker
that a colleague was complaining about you. Hearing from others that
someone is criticizing you “behind your back” often generates anger
and the potential for the conflict to escalate.
If you find yourself talking to
others about the situation and wanting confirmation from them that
you are “right”, stop. Take a step back and think about the issue.
The following sections might provide new insights and approaches -
Being Hard on the Problem – Not the
The Role of
Assumptions, Perceptions and Expectations in Conflict.
Keep working at it
Understand that sometimes it takes
more than one meeting to really develop a good working relationship.
Special attention may need to be placed on ensuring that clear and
effective communication occurs with this colleague until a smoother
working relationship has been attained.