Conflict in the workplace is completely inevitable, in as much as you're managing a group of people. You don't need to blame your recruitment procedure for not being able to handle workplace conflict. There's a difference between rehearsed answers and the practical aspect. You may have succeeded in asking your employees questions on how to handle conflict and received perfect responses before recruiting them. The sad story is that: behavioral interviews do not guarantee the absence of conflict in the workplace.
So, how do you handle conflict at work? The most promising system is to manage the situation and issues that may cause conflict at work. While the most conventional way of managing conflict is a direct manual approach, there are also available tools that could help business operations run with less conflict. Conflict in an office could be between just two members in a team, an entire team, an employee and a supervisor, etc. Below are promising tips on how to handle conflict at work.
Recognize it’s a conflict
Sometimes we want to tell ourselves it’s not a big issue when the employees in conflict with one another are not seeing it so. This is a big mistake and could permanently create a hostile environment for the weaker party without your knowledge.
Try to encourage employees involved in conflict once you notice it. In a situation, you feel they can resolve the conflict themselves. If you are having a conflict with your employee, try to resolve it immediately in private.
Be ready to talk
Handling a conflict at work requires you to do some talking. Once you notice that the conflict between your employees is growing beyond them; they are not able to handle it after you urged them to do so, try to set a place and an extended time to talk with them without interruptions.
While there’s a need for the employees to maintain a nonviolent approach, give them time to express how they feel. Conflict is purely a misunderstanding. At some level, both parties have a valid point. But don’t allow one party to monopolize the conversation. Expressing how they feel about the situation would help them to feel better and equally give you a glimpse of what to focus on.
Be ready to listen carefully
Without listening to the parties attentively, there’s no way you could truly understand their stories or help them to understand you’re concerned about them. Rephrase and repeat the major points to clarify that you understand them and to help them align with your opinion when you advise them. Ask questions where necessary. You can ask the one talking to paraphrase their message to help you understand better. The whole idea is to create a connection. Remember they’ll need to listen to you.
Don’t focus on the personalities, but on the events and behavior
This is not the time to blame anyone or attack the party you think was wrong based on the entire story. It’s possible that one side couldn’t share their story in your understanding, this will further frustrate them. Focus on the problem between them and don’t bring in your opinion about any party. The major thing you want is peace and that should be in focus.
You can only resolve a conflict at work when you are able to find where the entire stories agree with each other. Show them their commonness and share instances of where you agree with each other’s point. Establishing a point of agreement simply help them to give in to the fact that they need to resolve the conflict and build a relationship to function as a team.
Guide them towards the conflict resolution
While resolving a work conflict does not allow you to take sides, helping each party to work out their problems is your primary assignment. Give them advice on how they need to personally handle conflicts at work through the positive aspect. Suggest processes and actions they can adopt to avoid future conflicts.
Conflict resolution at work simple means forgiveness: acknowledging each other’s feelings and embracing a system to amend it. Teach the employees to say sorry for their actions. If you are involved in the conflict, you should equally do the same and look forward to a new level of workplace relationship with the party.
Dealing with conflict in the workplace requires patience and wisdom. You need to give in time if a party is not ready to discuss the issue yet. Also, if you observe that a party is not fully satisfied with your conflict resolution strategy, agree on another time for further discussion, some people need time to forgive or make peace.