If you have experienced working in an office for an extended period of time, you probably already know that conflict is a common occurrence. Professional and personnel conflicts can occur in even the most harmonious workplaces from time to time, and you know that many office environments are far from harmonious. It is important to realize that conflicts are often associated with stress. A stressful work environment may be caused by conflict, or may itself be the result of conflict. For this reason, some of the most effective methods for dealing conflict in the workplace involve addressing stress-related issues. Here are some tips that may help reduce stress and conflict in the workplace. Keep an open mind
Keeping your mind open will help lay the groundwork for a positive and open exchange of ideas and opinions. This in turn can bring about a favorable resolution to the conflict. Being open to new directions and ideas will also help ensure a resolution that addresses the needs of everyone, whether they are directly involved in the conflict or even just affected by it.
Consider the factors that contributed to the conflict
Personal conflicts in the workplace tend to be fairly straightforward, but they can become quite complex and disruptive if the core issues remain unaddressed for a long time. This is why it is important to consider all the factors that any have contributed to the conflict. Be aware that even seemingly simple problems may have numerous mitigating factors, so don’t limit yourself to addressing only the surface issues.
Respect everyone’s differences
In the streamlined and oftentimes homogenous environment of the typical workplace, it is easy to forget that everyone has different personalities. This may be reflected in their way of working, how they communicate with others, and even how they choose to live their lives. One of the key steps to conflict resolution is acknowledging these differences and considering them when getting to the root of the issue. By simply recognizing how interpersonal differences could have contributed to the conflict, you may be one step closer to finding a solution.
Address the conflict as soon as possible
There are instances when it would be better to give it a day or two and let everyone involved in the conflict to cool down a bit. However, many incidences of workplace related conflict are best addressed as soon as possible. By addressing the problem quickly, you can prevent it from escalating any further. An early attempt at resolution will also help prevent any further disruption to your office routine.
Listen to all opinions and all points of view
There are at least two sides to every conflict, and you will find that most will actually involve even more opinions and points of view. As challenging as it may seem, you should make an effort to listen to the points of view of everyone involved in the conflict. You definitely don’t want to be thought of as taking sides, and considering all opinions is a good way to ‘democratize’ the conflict resolution process.
If you are used to ordering people around, it may require some effort to tone down your delivery a bit. The days leading up to–and during–the conflict are stressful enough as it is without you causing any more friction. Keep calm and speak rationally to everyone involved, and don’t let your emotions get the better of you. By establishing the tone for a calm and rational discussion, you will hopefully be better able to work toward a favorable resolution.
Ask for assistance if necessary
At some point, you may have to throw in the towel and ask for more qualified help if your efforts at conflict resolution aren’t getting you anywhere. Don’t blame yourself; not everyone is suited to the task of getting two opposing forces to suddenly agree to start playing nice. In fact, it often requires the attention of a professional, which is why you might consider hiring a conflict resolution expert instead. You may also seek assistance from a superior at work or your human resources manager.
Make sure that the resolution is acceptable to everyone
Possibly the most challenging aspect of conflict resolution is ensuring that the solution is acceptable to everyone. It will require openness, honesty, maturity, and the willingness to work together to find a workable solution, but it can be done. Along with the steps outlined above, this will hopefully ensure a more harmonious and productive work environment with much less stress.