How to manage conflict in the workplace

One of the greatest disruptions to work as usual is conflict.

Whether it rears its head between two people, or twenty, allowing any discord to fester within the office can eventually lead to a toxic company culture that risks even your best employees leaving your organisation.

As such, business owners must learn how to address and mitigate conflict in the workplace. This is, of course, easier said than done. For this reason, we have created this article which lists different tips for resolving and preventing disagreements from occurring in the office. If you want to become a better manager and create a more positive work environment, then you should read on.

Consider What Goes Unsaid

Conflicts are often implicit as opposed to explicit. Just because employees aren’t having a shouting match doesn’t mean that one isn’t being bullied by the other. For example, undermining comments, body language and micro-aggressions are something to keep an eye out for. These things can help you to identify conflict and intervene before this behaviour results in an employee leaving because of bullying.

Anticipate Issues Before They Arise

Some conflicts in the workplace can occur after the employee has left the organisation, especially when things have been left on bad terms.

For instance, if you fired a worker because of their poor performance, then they might leverage a legal claim against you and say they were wrongly dismissed. Employment solicitors are your best bet when it comes to avoiding, managing or resolving these kinds of conflicts. For example, they can help you to establish HR policies for lawfully firing employees or create a settlement agreement with a displeased former worker.

Remember that Email and Conflict Resolution Are Not Compatible

Emails have become the main platform for workplace agreements to occur on nowadays. This could be because employees find it easier to say what they really think when the conversation isn’t face-to-face or because the intention of a message can easily be misconstrued over text.

Either way, you should avoid emails when it comes to conflict resolution or delivering information which some might find sensitive. It’s always best to tackle things head-on with physical communication, even if this is more uncomfortable.

Agree to Disagree

We must accept that sometimes people will never come around to our way of thinking. After all, we all think our opinion is the right opinion. However, disagreements can lead to tension occurring in the workplace. To manage this form of conflict, you should try to encourage a company culture which expects, accepts and appreciates a difference in opinion. You should always intervene the moment it feels like a disagreement has become heated.

Stay Professional

Nearly all conflicts in the workplace arise from immaturity. To prevent this, you need to adopt an adult mindset and remain professional, regardless of how personal the attack. Don’t get sucked into the ‘drama triangle’ – as the psychologist Stephen Karpman calls it.

These are some of the best ways to prevent and manage conflict in the workplace. Try implementing these strategies in your office to see first-hand how effective they are.

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