Conflicts in the workplace arise often, but if ignored can negatively affect the team, department and even the overall organization and their goals. Anytime a diverse group of people come together in a work setting there is bound to be conflict. However, differing views between coworkers can often result when:
- Roles are left undefined
- Job duties or responsibilities are vague
- Rights are being violated
- Undue time pressure is placed on workers
- Staff don’t have the tools they require to do their jobs
- Personal agendas are at play
- Goals differ from those of the team or greater organization
The issues above are often at the root of workplace conflicts, and if the situation is a greater issue, such as a rights violation that’s being ignored by your boss, you may feel obligated to seek advice from an attorney. By the time the conflict intensifies to this magnitude, it can cause a company to lose staff talent, moral and focus on the company’s greater goals.
Apply the following dos and don’ts to help resolve conflicts in the workplace:
The 5 dos of conflict resolution in the workplace
1. Do examine the root of the conflict: Oftentimes conflicts between two people are based on miscommunication or misunderstanding. If there is a conflict between two people, start by sitting everyone down and making sure everyone has access to the same information and is on the same page.
2. Do be open to conflict resolution: Many conflicts increase due to stubbornness—either no person is willing to admit fault or no person is willing to be first to reach out an olive branch. No resolution will ever be solved unless both parties are willing to seek a solution, and if you’re uncooperative, you could be blamed for not being a team player.
3. Do seek an unbiased party for help: This could be your boss, human resources, management personnel, or just an unbiased third party—any individual who can shed some light on the root of the conflict and suggest solutions for resolution.
4. Do take everyone’s issues into consideration: Even if you completely disagree with a coworker, listen to what they have to say. Ask them how the situation is negatively affecting them, and ask them to provide some solutions. This way you will understand their point of view and come together to work towards a viable solution for everyone involved.
5. Do offer us solutions: Listen to everyone then offer up some ideas for resolution. This may bring you back together as a team if you are working to make everyone happy.
The 5 don’ts of conflict resolution in the workplace
1. Don’t be an instigator: If you aggressively seek out conflict you are bound to be labeled a trouble maker and company “problem”.
2. Don’t let things get out of control: Don’t let a conflict get so out of control that employees are overreacting, becoming hostile, or making threats in the heat of the moment. Instead, call a break and let everyone get away to clear their heads. Return to the discussion at a later date.
3. Don’t provoke an angry coworker: Direct confrontation and accusations will only embarrass a coworker and make it even harder to work together in the future or resolve the issue at hand.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Go to management, HR or a third party as a sign that you want to fix the situation. Just be sure to explain your position, but to keep it unbiased.
5. Don’t allow your rights to be violated: If you know that your rights in the workplace are being violated (e.g., a situation of workplace safety, bullying, sexual harassment or privacy), and your manager or HR department is ignoring the situation, contact a lawyer immediately to help resolve the workplace conflict.