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5 Steps to Addressing Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict naturally arises in any workplace between colleagues and offices.  It’s how you address conflict that speaks volumes versus its existence.

Consider these steps to effectively deal with conflict when it arises:

1. Decide when to address.  Wait until all parties have cooled
down. Ensure that you open the lines of communication sooner rather than later to avoid the issue escalating. But remember that not all conflict may be worth pursuing.
By picking your battles, you can avoid conflict for the sake of conflict.  Take time to understand natural tensions between job descriptions and/or office objectives so that you pursue the issues where more is at stake.

2. Appreciate the perspective of your colleague(s).  Put yourself in your colleague’s shoes.  By trying to understand the other person’s or office’s motivations, you may appreciate her/his/their viewpoints.  If you can’t figure this out by yourself, then ask questions and use active listening to get at the root of the other person’s or office’s perspective.

3. Acknowledge your part in it.  Identify your underlying personal or departmental motivations and goals, so that you can neutrally look for solutions in a collegial and professional manner. Avoid letting emotions drive decisions.  Don’t assume the other person or office is unwilling to work towards a solution. Be willing to compromise and forgive if necessary.

4. Find neutral ground.  “Meet in a neutral place, remain calm, and treat the other person with respect,” suggested David W. Ballard, a psychologist and head of the American Psychological Association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program indicated in an article in Forbes. Treat each other with respect and create an environment where your colleague(s) feels genuinely heard and you can find common ground.

5. Uncover new ways to move forward.  The upside of conflict resolution with willing participants that have different viewpoints is often innovative problem-solving. By actively working toward a solution that both parties will be satisfied with, you can create a mutually agreed upon action plan.  You may even find that you strengthen your bond with your colleague(s).

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