Conflict in the workplace happens, even among the best of friends. That doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to resolve conflict and get a positive outcome from the situation. A few steps should be taken as soon a possible so you can resolve your conflict and start getting things done again. Here are some suggestions to help.
#1. Don’t Wait.
When conflict happens, take care of it as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it starts festering and getting out of control. For instance, if there’s been a miscommunication or a difference in how to reach goals, address these issues immediately. Communication problems and goal ambiguity are two of the most common causes for conflict in the workplace. Knowing this is important because you can be more conscious of when these problems are occurring. Address these issues as soon as you realize they’ve occurred and you’ll prevent a small conflict from snowballing into a big one.
#2. Get Clarity.
When you’re in doubt about what’s causing a problem, ask question and get clarity. You can tell if someone is upset but you may not know why. Instead of waiting, start asking questions. Ask the other person what’s upsetting him or her so you can discover if there’s been a misunderstanding. Ask about their opinion on the problem, it you’ve been misunderstood, or if you’ve misunderstood them. Just be sure to get clarity so you can clear the air.
#3. Restate the Issues.
A great lesson in communication is restating an issue that you hear to be sure you are clear on it. To make sure you heard what was stated and that you and the other person are understanding things in a similar manner, mirror what they’ve said back to them. An example is, “It sounds to me that you’re saying,” or “I understand you’re saying. This will help bring quick clarification and prevent real conflicts from sparking.
#4. Be Ready to Apologize.
Saying you’re sorry is not a easy thing to do. But taking the high and admitting a mistake or just being the first to end the conflict by offering an apology can go a long ways. An apology goes miles towards lowering someone’s defenses. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out; just a simple, “I’m sorry we’ve had this misunderstanding,” lowers the tension and puts the other party in a more compatible frame of mind.
#5. Criticize with Care.
The art of giving constructive criticism is necessary in the workplace. To give constructive criticism use the sandwich principle. That means you’ll sandwich any criticism between two bookends of praise. For example, “You have a wonderful way of motivating the team. I think if you could work on following up with them regularly our projects will run more smoothly. You know your team well so I’m sure they’ll be responsive.”
#6. Share Expectations.
Not knowing what the other person wants or needs can be the beginning of conflict. Be sure to be clear about your workplace expectations if you’re the boss or the one carrying out the work. Use clear and concise language to avoid people misunderstanding you. Remember it’s okay to ask for clarification because you really want to be sure you’re understood.
#7. Stay Positive.
Nothing helps to beat conflict like a good positive outlook. Even though you can expect conflicts to show their ugly face almost daily in the workplace, you can take the position to approach each day, task, and co-worker with a positive attitude. As a result, you’ll find that many potential conflicts will simply fade away. Being position has a contagious effect so share that positive feeling with everyone and make the whole workplace experience a better thing.
Still can’t get along? When all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask for mediation. Sometimes people just can’t get along or they just don’t communicate well. This means working together is going to be extra difficult. If a situation arises and the steps you’ve taken to remedy the conflict aren’t working, ask for help. Many larger companies offer mediation services or you can bring in a superior to help clear up the situation.