“You are wrong, and your point is stupid!” This is the easiest way to get into conflict with coworkers. Conflicts on the job can create a hostile work environment. In a hostile work environment, the issue can spread far and wide which often decreases productivity. Employers frown-upon a decrease in productivity due to personal issues, and often reprimand all parties involved. Employees yelling and screaming at each other draws negative attention and added stress to the job. Sure, there will be disagreements, but how it is handled is the key to solving the issue at hand.
When someone is being rude or mean to you, how would you handle it? Will you punch them in the face? Yes, if you want to lose your job, credibility, and create possible lawsuits for yourself. If you don’t desire those outcomes, find some conflict management techniques.
As an employer or individual in upper management, there are techniques used to manage conflict between employees. Do you know the best technique to use? How about putting the two employees in a pit to fit to the death, and the winner has the most valid point? No, that’s to barbaric and unethical. There is no “best” technique when dealing with conflict, because no conflict is the same. However, there are effective and ethical techniques that employers can use to combat conflict.
Some ethically effective techniques when dealing with conflicts employers often use are:
- Setup a meeting with both/ all parties involved in the conflict, at a neutral site/area, when all parties have calmed down.
- This gives all parties a chance to talk and explain the issue one at a time. A neutral area is needed so one employee does not feel less comfortable than the other. It is also important to have the meeting after everyone has calmed down, when people are angry they tend not to listen to what is being said and react off the emotions of the messenger.
- When meeting with parties having a conflict, have all parties use “I” statements.
- “I” statements allow all parties involved to focus on his or her part of the conflict, without pointing fingers or placing blame on another person.
- Define acceptable behavior to all employees.
- By defining acceptable behavior each employee is held to the same set of rules. This help eliminates conflict of one employee being able to do what another cannot. For instance, employees that take cigarette breaks, is not allowed to take more breaks than a non-smoker if acceptable behavior is defined.
- Remain a positive outlook and atmosphere.
- By being the boss or the lead-in-charge, it is important not to take sides and remain positive. If employees think the boss cannot solve the issue, the conflict will continue and can even increase in severity.
- Have all parties involved provide suggestions on resolving the issue.
- If there are more than one suggestion, then the parties can explain how and why his or her suggestion would work; all parties can vote on one resolution or work together to come-up-with a compromise.
- If all else fails, the boss has to decide a form of resolution and implement it for all parties to adhere to.
- This is the last resort effort, when the parties involved can only agree to disagree, the boss must take a stance to put an end to the conflict.
We all like to think that our way is the right way, our suggestion is the only suggestion, and our opinion is the best opinion. But in this world, there are many different eyes that observe things in many different ways. For instance, the color of the sky can be described as four different colors by four individuals. One can say blue, one can say sky blue, another can say baby blue and the last might say azure. No one is wrong, the sky is a shade of blue and sometimes gray. So just as a conflict arise, one person can see the issue as one aspect and the other can be concentrating on a totally different aspect.
To resolve a conflict, there are also steps one can take one his or her own.
- Choose your battles wisely. Often conflict can be avoided because the issue is not an important factor to fight over or for.
- Find a way to calm yourself down. Cooler heads can see issues clearer and find resolutions faster.
- Be an active listener. Pay attention to what is being said, not how it is being said.
- Ask the other person for a resolution suggestion. This way you two can come up with an accepted compromise. This can also be a chance to work together and see each other’s perspective.
Conflicts are nothing more than a difference of opinions, and strategies, with a heightened sense of emotions in a boiling pot. Resolutions are made by removing from fire, sprinkle in compromise, and come out with an agreement.
For more information on Workplace Conflict see the below links:
- Five Techniques to Help You Manage Conflict in the Workplace
- 10 Tips for Tackling the Toughest Workplace Conflicts
- 5 Keys to dealing with Workplace Conflict
- How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace
- How to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace