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Strategies for conflict resolution in the workplace

A workplace consists of people that bring together a variety of backgrounds, experiences and personalities. These types of professional environments are filled with different perspectives and viewpoints that help establish new ideas and foster productivity. Within each and every workplace you may have many positive collaborative experiences with others, however you are also bound to have the occasional disagreement or conflict. What happens though when a disagreement or conflict begins to hinder the ways you work?

If you feel that a conflict in the workplace is impacting your ability to do your job successfully or is making you feel uncomfortable, it may be time to consider some methods of conflict resolution. Conflict resolution in the workplace can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending on the severity of your conflict and/or how comfortable you feel with directly confronting an individual/conflict, you may need to contact an HR representative in your workplace. Fortunately, there are many strategies for conflict resolution in the workplace that you can try either with an HR representative present or on your own. Here are five strategies to better help address workplace conflict.

1. Focus on the facts.

While your first thought may be to bring up an individual’s personality traits or things that you don’t like about them as a person, it’s best to steer clear of those type of judgments. Try instead to focus more on the facts, like what exactly was said or done and how it impacted you or made you feel. This way, you are able to hone in on exactly what the problem is, as opposed to getting caught up in discussions that veer away from the specific conflict.

2. Practice active listening.

There’s nothing more frustrating than someone who isn’t really listening. In order to practice effective conflict resolution, it’s important to also practice active listening. Active listening requires complete attention and concentration for both parties, and can help strengthen any relationship and resolve conflict. To be a more active listener try showing that you’re paying attention to the speaker by making eye contact/looking at the person, nodding as they speak, and responding appropriately with meaningful feedback to let them know that you’re engaged.

3. Pinpoint agreements and disagreements.

When dealing with conflict(s) in the workplace, it can be helpful to pinpoint exactly where the conflict(s) are. Try to work together to hone in on the exact problems so that you can better find a solution. Additionally, it can be helpful to also think about what you both agree on as well. You’re likely to agree on more than you may realize. Consider drafting out a list so that you can better visualize your agreements and disagreements.

4. Develop a mutual plan for change.

Once you’ve correctly identified all the specific points of conflict, both parties should work together to come up with a mutual plan for change. The contents of the plan will be unique to each specific situation however generally you could cover:

  • Specific actions that both parties will take to help resolve the conflict(s).

  • A timeline for when or how these specific actions will be measured.

  • A specific time when both parties will be able to discuss the progress of the conflict resolution at a later date.

5. Follow through and discuss results.

During your conflict resolution meeting, it is important to take some time to think about how and when you are going to track the progress of your conflict resolution. Once this is established, both parties can use this as a check in to see how the conflict resolution progress has been made. Did both parties follow through and do exactly what they said they were? Has there been positive progress made on towards the conflict resolution? If not, what are some strategies that can used to better resolve the conflict moving forward?

Dealing with conflict in your workplace can be stressful, but fortunately it’s manageable. Using conflict resolution strategies in a professional space can help you move forward, find a solution to the conflict, and create a better place of work for all.

Learn more about conflict resolution strategies by checking out resources and training provided by MCS Chicago.

Contributing Writer: Brittany A. Hamilton

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