Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict is not uncommon in the workplace, when people come together and work cooperatively it can result in collaboration, efficient productivity, and lead to positive outcomes for the organisation, however with everyone bringing their different personalities, ideas, and communication styles – it is understandable that now and then, everyone will not always see eye to eye and conflict can arise.

The important thing about conflict is knowing how to handle it and when it needs to be escalated – as a work environment with consistent issues, resentment or brewing conflicts can reduce morale and lead to a toxic environment that no one wants to be in.

The good news is – there is some helpful tips to resolve conflicts and when dealt with quickly and in the right way it can bring issues to light, lead to positive change, and even strengthen relationships between co-workers.

Some of the major reasons for workplace conflict include

  • Personality clashes in a team
  • Unclear responsibilities
  • Competition for resources
  • Different interests

Here are some helpful tips from EAP assist to tackle any conflict that comes your way at work, whether it be direct conflict or if you are a manager and your team is dealing with clashes – here are some ways to help move through issues that arise.

  1.  Raise the issue early
    It is vital that you speak up and address your concerns early, keeping it quiet can escalate the problem as if the issue is not resolved, this will brew resentment and anger sometimes making it harder to solve the problem at hand.
    Be assertive but not aggressive and talk to the other party involved. This will encourage others to do the same – and you can get to the root cause of a problem before it escalates.
    If you’re not comfortable approaching the other party, or worry that it may exacerbate the problem, speak with your manager first.
  2. Manage your emotions
    When dealing with conflict it is easy to lose control of your emotions, and when angry or upset we may say things that could make the issue worse.
    Ensure you chose an appropriate time to discuss the problem when you are not in height of emotions and able to have a rational and calm conversation – it is important to remain professional.
    Some things you can ask yourself or a team member that approaches you for some help to tackle conflict are:
    “What is it I want to achieve here?
    “What are the issues I’m having?” and
    “What is it that I would like to see?”
  3.  Show empathy
    Try asking the other party to describe how they are feeling, ask how they think they might resolve the issue, and listen with empathy. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is an essential part of conflict resolution.
    Be an active listener and show the other person that you are willing to understand their side and are engaged in making things better
    This helps you to build mutual respect and understanding – and achieve an outcome that satisfies both parties.
  4. Be able to accept criticism
    And lastly – it is important to be open to criticism that may be directed toward you. This can be hard to hear and feel damaging to the ego but remember that constructive criticism is about how you are doing the job and not you as a person. Keep an open mind and use criticism to help you to identify areas to improve, perform better next time, and grow both as an individual but also are part of that team.

Try to engage with some of these steps the next time conflict arises in your workplace, the biggest mistake you can make is to do nothing.

Unresolved tensions can affect the health and performance of the individuals but also the whole organisation.

This is another article in our new WWNSW Wellbeing Series – we are aiming to share articles, resources and tips weekly with advice from our EAP program to manage stress and promote wellbeing in and out of the workplace.