Lessons in Workplace Conflict Management

Conflict Management

Resolving workplace conflicts requires patience and an understanding that winning a dispute is not always the end goal. Managers who learn the art of compromise will be well-positioned to build relationships in the workplace that lead to harmony and goal achievement.

Look For Behavior Patterns In Employees

Consider the employee with chronic attendance problems. He or she is often late for work, late returning from breaks, etc. When confronted with the issue, the employee explains that their work is boring and that, ‘Nobody else would want to do it anyway’.  An untrained manager might take the bait, so to speak, and be tempted to argue, defending the company policy and the necessity of compliance. When that response is quickly met with more negative sentiment, the manager is poised to enter the fray and pull rank on the employee by discussing disciplinary steps. A wiser approach would be to invoke some simple conflict management tactics to resolve the matter and elicit the desired commitment to change from the employee.

To Reduce Conflict, Avoid Gossip and Bad-Mouthing

To avoid making the conflict worse, gossip and bad-mouthing must be avoided. Being professional means having the courage to confront the problem and act without mudslinging. There is no room for bullying and threat-making. These emotional reactions provoke emotional, often irrational responses. Any defensiveness, especially from the management, should also be kept in check. That attitude is contrary to the open-minded spirit needed to find common ground.

Sound Conflict Management

The best conflict management technique starts with empathy; put yourself in the other person’s shoes and begin to appreciate their perspective. Be an active listener by searching for others’ opinions and points of view. Find elements to agree on, such as company goals and objectives that are in everyone’s best interests. Identify mutual self-interests and explain how the other party can benefit from cooperating with you. Be honest, flexible, and fair. Above all else, maintain emotional composure and be willing to compromise.