Conflict Resolution Tips for Effective Workplace

Conflict Resolution Tips for Effective Workplace

Every individual has his own or her way of life, which is what is referred to as culture. Because of this difference in personality, there will always be some sort of friction between 2 or more individuals. This friction does not only happen in the personal and social sphere, it also takes place in professional environments. Conflicts are quite common in most workplaces.

Workplace conflicts are usually the result of poor communication between employees. As a manager, you might not be able to stop these conflicts from happening but with excellent conflict resolution skills, you can overcome workplace conflicts fast. Conflict resolution skills are one important skill every individual in a leadership position should acquire. Effective conflict resolution can strengthen teams and working relationships, greater job satisfaction, lead to increased productivity, give room for collaborative learning and growth, and finally leads to an inclusive culture. On the other hand, when conflicts are not resolved, it impacts the company’s culture, employee performance and retention, team dysfunction, loss of talents, mistrust, demotivation, and bullying of weaker employees. There are several conflict resolution strategies a manager or employee can use to resolve conflicts effectively. To resolve conflicts in a workplace, a manager should have excellent leadership skills, problem-solving skills, and decision-making skills.


Causes of conflicts in a workplace

Before we dive down to effective conflict resolution tips, it would be wise to identify a few causes of conflicts in the workplace. This is to give you a clear understanding of what to look out for that could lead to these disputes. If you do not know the causes, how do you know how to prevent or proffer solutions.

Poor communication

This is one of the major causes of conflict in the workplace. Poor communication can arise due to poor management of information between employees.

Personality and values clashes

Differences in religious beliefs, culture, race, and values can lead to misunderstandings between employees. Some individuals are naturally biased and find it hard to give room to other people’s ideas, thoughts beliefs, or ways of life.

Scarcity of resources and overwhelming workloads

Conflicts can arise between employees when resources are insufficient or when available resources are not been distributed evenly. In either case, competition between employees will be unavoidable. When employees feel that their workload is too much or they are being pushed too hard,  resentment towards the leaders is not far-fetched.

Lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities

When there is no clear line or boundary to tell when one employee’s role begins and where another employee’s role should end, their employees will start stepping on each other’s toes. This is because there is no clear job description and roles.

Additional sources of conflict can be due to poor management, unfair or discriminatory treatment, lack of training, unhealthy competition, lack of opportunities and personal growth, and changes in internal systems due to mergers or acquisitions.


How to manage workplace conflicts effectively

Stop conflict before it arises

This is more of prevention rather than cure. Few factors that could lead to conflicts have been listed above. But numerous other factors can also lead to conflicts. Majority of which can be prevented before it leads to disputes between employees. For instance, limited resources as listed above can be prevented by providing employees sufficient resources and tools necessary to function optimally in the workplace environment.

If eventually you can not prevent the conflict and it eventually arises, uses this guide to effectively resolve the issue

Take actions immediately

Individuals often say that silence is the best answer. One problem with silence is that it does not resolve the issue, it only postpones it to another day. The human mind is keen on recording events. A typical human will just keep brewing the hate and anger inside, which is not good for physical and mental health. Conflicts do not just go away by keeping quiet, it gets worse over time. Unresolved conflicts can lie dormant for days, weeks even months. The employees involved will keep piling it up until one of them is supersaturated and lets out his emotion. Workers that make claims will feel neglected and will take the law into their hands the next time it happens.

Clarify the source of the conflict

Understanding the source of conflict is the first step in resolving conflict. To proffer solutions, you need to know what the problem is. People often have different perceptions of how an event took place. Understanding both parties’ perceptions will help you determine how each person feels. To have a constructive conversation, find a safe environment to talk. Arrange to meet team members separately. This will give each employee the courage to speak freely, especially when the conflict is between employees at different levels. This will also help you find any common ground. Then, arrange to meet with team members together.

Listen attentively

As it is popularly said” when everyone is talking, no one is listening. The importance of having good listening skills is often undervalued. When you have gotten both parties to a private place, allow each of them to air their views and opinion regarding the event that took place. A manager should have active listening skills.


Do not be partial

Always be fair in your judgment. Try not to take sides. Do not display any form of favoritism. In some workplaces, managers often form personal relationships with employees. No one is saying this is bad or should be prohibited, but try not to let it influence your judgment. You do not want the other employee to assume you are treating them unfairly cause of your relationship with the other party. Keep your relationships in the office to a minimum personal level, maybe outside the work environment you can switch it up.

Use neutral terms and open body language

When resolving conflicts between employees do not allow your emotions to get the better part of you. You need to cool off first before tackling the issue. Speak calmly and agreeably. Often use neutral language and be mindful of your body language. You do not want to scare your employees from bringing future issues to you to resolve. These tips are not only for managers,  employees can also resolve conflicts within themselves. It is usually not what is being said that leads to conflict but how it is said. When addressing the issue, use neutral language and try separating the other person from the problem. To prevent the other party from feeling attacked, it is better to use” I” rather than “you”.  For instance, I feel my contributions are not being heard is way better than saying “ You do not put my contributions into consideration”.

Recognize and respect personal differences

Everyone sees and experiences the world differently. This can be due to experiences, individual and cultural diversity, values, and beliefs. We interpret what we have heard or seen in different ways. Recognizing these differences exists helps us to be more open to other people’s opinions.

Investigate the situation

Do not make a conclusion based on what you have heard from both parties. Take time to investigate the matter. Dig deeper to find out more about the situation surrounding the conflict. If it’s an incident that took place in the eyes of other people, get more information from them.


Take a no penalty approach

Conflicts often get aggravated when the employees get the impression that whoever is at fault will be penalized. You need both parties to understand that there will be no repercussions for the guilty party. Reassure them that what you are most interested in is avoiding failures or glitches that will arise as a result of the incorporation


Apologizing does not always mean you are wrong and the other person is right, it means that you value the relationship more than your ego – Mark Mathews. A sincere apology can go a long way in resolving a conflict. Just the golden five-letter word” sorry” might be the one thing that a wronged colleague needs to hear to let go of grudges. Most people find it very difficult to apologize when they are wrong. Be the bold one to step up and apologize.

Agree on the best solution

After you have gotten the employees to calm down, lay out the cause of the conflict, understand the roles they both played in the conflict and apologize to each other, the next step is to ask both parties to develop a conclusion on the best solution for the problem. Combine their outputs with yours and set these steps into motion.

Monitor the progress of the parties involved

Do not presume the dispute has been resolved. Keep a close eye on the employees involved to see if there is a sign of progress.

Set preventive strategies

When managing conflict processes, you need to make sure that the issue does not resurface by setting preventive strategies. Below is a list of things you can put in place to avoid the repetition of workplace conflicts

1) Set clear expectations

2)  Encourage teamwork

3 Avoid situations that will lead to unhealthy competition

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