5 Ways to Resolve Conflict at Work

Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, but resolution can be easy with these tips

Bring in a mediator if you can’t resolve an office conflict

Negativity can poison the workplace, so try these steps to resolving conflict

We spend most of our away-from-home time in the workplace, so it’s critical to keep it an emotionally healthy place to be. Festering conflict can poison the workplace for you and for everyone surrounding the dispute.

If you are in conflict with someone at work, try these five methods of finding resolution, and lighten the burden of stress for yourself and for all of your co-workers.

How to Resolve Conflict with a Co-worker

  1. Examine the nature of the conflict. Are you at odds over a particular issue, or is there ongoing tension? What is your role in the dispute? Is anxiety making you defensive? Is your own behaviour contributing to the conflict?
Have a calm and open face-to-face discussion as soon as possible. E-mail feels safer, but its lack of critical non-verbal cues can create further misunderstandings and heighten the tension. 

  3. Rather than refuting or reacting to a statement, clarify it by saying out loud what you think the other person means. Let that person respond, and clarify again until he or she is satisfied with your understanding. Then you may respond in kind, or ask questions to better learn the other person’s point of view.

  4. Be respectfully assertive. Express your observations, conclusions, feelings and needs in “I” statements, without accusing. Stick to the facts and to your own experiences. Acknowledge the other person’s positive contributions along with your own.

  5. If communication fails and the conflict escalates, it may be necessary to bring in a mediator. Avoid attempting to recruit allies among your co-workers. Instead, look for a neutral ombudsperson in your office who has the authority to make decisions.

Keep Positive at Work

Don’t allow conflict to go unaddressed and unresolved. Take positive action now.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.