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9 Tips To Handle Your Workplace Conflict

9 Tips To Handle Your Workplace Conflict

Wherever there are humans, there is conflict. Disputes can crop up in families, friends circles, neighborhoods and even workplaces. Unlike other areas though, workplace conflicts have to be handled with greater care. You can’t just say and do anything you like because there are serious legal ramifications of doing the wrong thing in a professional setting. 


At HiCounselor, we like to help people get the best out of their professional lives, which is why we’ve created this short guide on how you can tackle office disputes. If you need help securing a job or giving your career a boost, get in touch with us and have a chat with one of our helpful mentors!

1. Talk in a Private Place

If you find yourself being one part of a workplace conflict, the first thing you need to do is find a place to talk where you won’t be disturbed or overheard. Conflict resolution is a delicate process and you don’t want others trying to eavesdrop or even accidentally interrupting your conversation. It’s best if you find a neutral ground that isn’t either party’s office or “turf”. Find a safe and secure location so you can hash things out.

2. Really Listen

Don’t launch into your list of grievances right at the outset. Invite the other person to speak first. This makes you look like the bigger person and shows you want to reach a resolution rather than continue the fight in a more private setting. When the other person is talking, really listen without defensiveness to see if there’s any truth in their statements. Don’t interrupt while they’re talking and ask questions once they’re finished to ensure you understand their opinions.     


3. Only Speak for Yourself

Maybe other colleagues have confided in you that they too have problems with the colleague with whom you’re in a workplace conflict. Don’t speak for anyone else, however, when you’re in conflict resolution. Only talk about your own experiences and opinions. Mentioning others might make your colleague feel like you’re all ganging up on them, which will probably defeat the purpose of the meeting. Your other colleagues, too, might not appreciate being dragged into the situation if things escalate. 

4. Be Mindful

When you’re addressing the workplace conflict with your colleague, try to frame your sentences in a way that focuses on the situation rather than the person. For example, you can say, “When x happened…” rather than, “When you did x…”. Give specific instances of things you didn’t appreciate rather than generalizations that might make your colleague feel like everything they do irritates you. It would be great if you managed to point out some things your colleague did that you liked. 

5. Agree to Disagree

Most of the time, it’s hard to get people to agree on any given situation. The movie ‘Rashomon’ does a great job of examining how everyone’s version of “the truth” is different. More than likely, there’ll be some instances where you and your colleague will differ no matter how much you try to explain your points of view. Don’t get hung up on those. The idea is not to win by proving your point but to resolve the workplace conflict so your workflow isn’t interrupted.  

6. Focus on Solutions, not Problems

The longer you discuss the problem and what each of you feel about it, the more entrenched you’ll get in your positions. Once you’ve covered the cause of the workplace conflict, start focusing on the possible resolutions. Ask your colleague what they’d like to have happen to resume the normal flow of things. Also state what sort of solution would work best for you. Try to see if you have any common ground as far as solutions are concerned. 


7. Aim for a Win-Win Solution

When you discuss solutions with your colleague, odds are you’ll have different ideas about the best way to resolve the workplace conflict. If either of you starts insisting on getting your way, things are going to stall and then have to be taken to higher ups or the HR department. The best resolution is probably one where you both get some of what you want, rather than one person getting everything they want. Go for a win-win solution so neither party feels defeated. 

8. Keep Your Cool

Like we mentioned before, workplace conflicts need to be handled with care. You should avoid raising your voice or making any kind of personal attacks on your colleague, no matter how tempted you are to unleash that witty zinger. In fact, your office can be a great setting to display your emotional intelligence. Approaching the situation with empathy and understanding is most likely to get you success and make you look good to others.

9. Address Problems When They’re Small

A lot of us are conflict-averse, which means we’d rather avoid disagreements and not openly address problems. Sometimes this can work against us. If we don’t let others know we don’t like certain things, they’ll keep doing them. We, in turn, will keep building up resentment silently until we finally blow. Don’t wait for the workplace conflict to become a shouting match before addressing it. Try to resolve disputes while they’re still minor in nature. 

We hope these tips help you find the resolution you’re seeking! Check out our article on teamwork skills to help build better relationships with your colleagues. If you’re looking for a job and would like some expert assistance, get in touch with us at HiCounselor to see how we can help boost your career!