How to Squash Conflict in the Workplace
Workplace conflict is an unfortunate reality. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can be costly, translating to $359 billion in losses for U.S. companies annually. Disagreements happen in even the best work cultures. Although conflict is often inevitable, leaders can help their team out of a tiff with proper conflict resolution. Here’s how you can stop a conflict in the workplace before it causes major problems:
Deescalate the situation by listening
Get ahead of the situation by allowing employees to air their grievances before it escalates in an inappropriate way. Feelings and pride can be damaged during a disagreement, so your employees may not be able to see the issues objectively. Moreover, an outside party lends an objective voice, which can nip conflict in the bud early on. Separate both parties and listen to their points of view. When the people involved feel as though they are being heard, they become less defensive, which lends a hand to the next step.
Commit to finding a solution
Before sitting down with everyone involved, articulate that the goal is to resolve the conflict. It’s not about who’s right, but rather how your team can best work together. Having coworkers as enemies is problematic to the culture of a work environment. Left unchecked, toxic behaviors can rear their ugly head. Further, agreeing to finding a solution shows your team that you care about every employee’s experience in the workplace, which makes them committed to working the issue out instead of giving up.
Facilitate the mediation
A supervisor or leader should conduct the mediation. Coworkers should not be left to try and work things out on their own, because they are too close to the situation. Once you’ve assembled everyone, state the goals of the sit down, relay the course of events in an objective manner, and give your employees the opportunity to explain their views on the matter. Encourage “I” statement and stick to facts, as they are less likely to make the listener defensive. When necessary, chime in and explains things in an empathetic manner. Together, work to find an appropriate solution that satisfies your team.
Conflict in the workplace, while unavoidable, can be managed. If you spot a disagreement brewing on the horizon, step in sooner than later. When engaging in conflict resolution, keep things even-keeled and neutral, so that everyone follows suit. No workplace culture is ever perfect, but when monitored and maintained, employers can keep issues at bay, which leads to a productive workplace.