Conflict in the workplace is, as in any other context which involves other people, inevitable. This is why you need to expect conflicts to happen at some point and, when they do, be able to do something about them.
Conflicts can be seen as either destructive or as great learning opportunities. It’s up to you how you choose to regard them, and your view and attitude can strongly influence the outcome of a conflict. Here are a few quick tips that can help you better manage a workplace conflict:
1. Be realistic! If you truly want to solve a conflict, you need to accept the fact that you can’t ‘win’ it. Winning a conflict means reaching a one-sided solution, which will only lead to the conflict manifesting itself again in the future, as well as in stress, tension, and inefficiency within the team.
2. Be prompt! The sooner you resolve a conflict, the better. Things only worsen with time.
3. Make the first step! Many people treat conflict like a waiting game. If both parties employ that strategy, then the conflict can drag on far too long for comfort. Don’t fall into that trap – make the first step by inviting that other person to meet you for a coffee or a walk somewhere where you can talk about your issues.
4. Use facts when stating the problem! When describing the problem as you see it, use facts: someone doesn’t say hello to you anymore, or avoids you, instead of assuming what’s behind that behavior – like saying that he or she doesn’t respect you anymore.
5. Apologize! Each side played a part in the conflict, so both side should apologize to the other. Taking responsibility for your actions or inactions is not the same thing as admitting you’re to be blamed about the conflict. It’s just a way in which you acknowledge it wasn’t entirely the other person’s fault either.
The way in which you resolve conflicts can help you repair and strengthen bonds, and become a better communicator. In the end, you’ll find that most people only want to have their side of the story heard, and to feel understood.