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Resolving Conflict at the Office

Workplace conflicts are very common, in fact very few offices has a team that gets along all of the time. We have different personalities working together so the chances of disagreements once in a while are pretty high. Conflict in itself is not a bad thing unless it is left unaddressed. When not resolved, conflict can fester and affect everyone at the office including patients and customers. It can even lead to an employee quitting if they feel it is affecting their work balance and environment. Therefore, conflict resolution tactics are a crucial leadership skill that managers and owners need to hone. The worst thing team leaders can do is ignore it and hope it will disappear or resolve itself as it often only starts to spread.

  1.  Address conflict immediately. The sooner you can get a handle on the conflict at hand the easier it will be to resolve it. The longer it goes on the more likely it has grown in capacity and hard feelings.
  2. Listen to all parties. Take the time to bring each party in individually and hear all sides of the story. Conflicts are often miscommunications between people and if you listen for the source of the issue, you might be able to share with them what actually transpired.
  3. Empathize. As leaders, we can get frustrated when employees don’t get along when what we really need to be is empathetic and sensitive to the situation. Resolving it is going to take us staying calm and open.
  4. Focus on the problem. It is easy for people to get hung up on feelings when what you really need to focus on is the facts and the issue. As you are leading the resolution keep the feelings abated by continuing to focus on the problem only.
  5. Negotiate. Ask each of the individuals what it will take to resolve the conflict. Be firm with them that this is a professional environment so only professional responses will be accepted so they realize they must come up with a solution that will work for all.
  6. Be prepared to mediate. In order to complete the resolution you will likely have to play referee and bring the parties together for a discussion and agreement. Start the meeting letting both parties know that resolution is the only option and they must leave with a working plan on moving forward.
  7. Revisit and follow up. Don’t expect one meeting will cure all conflict. Schedule a meeting one week from the initial discussion to ensure all is well. 
by: Trudi Charest