Have you ever had a disagreement at work? At one time or another, you may have had workplace conflict. Honestly, who hasn’t? Everyone has specific preferences, communication styles and differing levels of emotional intelligence. Few institutions exist where everyone gets along. Leaders need to acknowledge that organizational conflict occurs and be ready to resolve it through conflict management best practices.
Most conflict arises from poor communication or hurt feelings. Confusion or vague directives can cause conflict. People are emotional beings and are often driven by how they feel. Keeping this in mind, leaders can resolve workplace conflict with improved communication and increasing emotional intelligence. Utilize conflict management assessments and the following resolution tools to help resolve issues in your workplace:
- Acknowledge workplace conflict and communicate a desire to resolve the situation. Don’t let workplace conflict fester. Leaders should address conflict immediately, or the situation could escalate. Communicate a commitment to working with employees in conflict towards joint resolution.
- Listen but don’t take sides. Most employees want to be valued and being heard is important to them. The first step in resolving conflict is to listen. If multiple people are involved, gather them together and give everyone a chance to speak. It is a good opportunity for all parties to hear all sides and gain a full understanding of the conflict. Be impartial and neutral so that employees feel they can speak honestly. Separate the problem from the person. Make sure to actively listen.
- Ask those in conflict for solutions. Often people in conflict look to other to resolve their problems and to mediate. Asking employees to offer solutions gives them an opportunity to grow their emotional intelligence and communicate better with whom they conflict. Help by mediating a mutually agreeable resolution.
- Encourage teamwork. When employee’s complete successful projects together it creates an experience of shared accomplishment and camaraderie. Reward cooperation and teamwork by sharing their success company wide. Positive public encouragement can be a strong motivator and reinforce the importance of working together.
Conflict management and peace science studies show that when conflicts go unaddressed, they negatively impact productivity and teamwork. To negotiate conflict in the workplace, leaders should strive to offer clear organizational directives and support the emotional well-being of their employees.