If you want to maintain a positive culture within your organization, intervening and mediating conflicts are among your main responsibilities. When you spot some tension, don’t hesitate to jump in – here are some pointers on how to effectively deal with workplace conflicts.
Don’t Avoid It
Even if things appear to get better on their own, know that when stress escalates in your office, old disagreements will surface to negatively impact your team. Your intervention is crucial in any kind of interpersonal disagreement – if you leave it unresolved, it might cause a disaster later on.
Realize the Gravity of the Conflict
If you think the only people affected by the conflict are its direct participants, you’re simply wrong. Everyone who interacts with either side will be affected – eventually, a misunderstanding could stress out the whole office. Conflicts promote a hostile working environment, where employees, instead of thriving, are suffering and being less productive. If things escalate and your team divides into two camps, you’re in for trouble.
Organize Collective Meetings
Never meet conflict participants in one-on-one meetings – if you listen to one party at the time, you risk not getting a full grasp on the situation. It’s obvious that both sides will try to make their cause seem more compelling to you, the ‘judge’, but that won’t make your job easier. Instead of reaching out and resolving their issues, you may inspire workers to become even more hostile.
Keep Calm and Listen
To efficiently handle a conflict, you’ll need to stay calm at all times. Take a step back and search for its underlying causes – maybe one of your team members is having a rough time at home and the situation impacts their professional attitude.
Understand the conflict through close observation and listen to the people involved in it – getting a feel for all perspectives will help you to mediate things by pointing out the commonalities between each side.
By saying something like: ‘I understand what you’re going through, here’s how I dealt with a similar problem in the past, you will not only come across as empathetic, but also disassociate the conflict from the intense emotions surrounding it and offer a more sensible approach.
Consider the Problem, Not the Person
Whatever you say, make sure to depersonalize your comments in order to avoid further emotional responses from your team members. Avoid blaming people – your goal is not to find out who\’s guilty, but to fix the problem and help people in their daily work.
More Future Than Past
Instead of dwelling in the past, concentrate on the future – don’t try to excavate the whole story of the conflict (who did what, who said what), but think about it in terms of a simple problem solving exercise. After all emotions settle, you may take a moment to think about what exactly happened and take measures to avoid similar situations in the future.
Being a manager is a tough job, but successful mediation of conflicts brings a lot of satisfaction. Be confident in your meditation skills and allow yourself to be creative in approaching workplace disagreements, and you’ll go a long way.
About the Author
Nicole Davies works at ShortCourseFinder, a website providing a simple way to find and sign up for online short courses from Australia’s top providers. Main areas of her interest are the social media and the use of new technologies in everyday life.