There are times when the path to bold living sees some of the Seven Pillars collide. This is true when it comes to being the healthiest version of you (Pillar: Health) for your family (Pillar: Relationships). This is true when it comes to juggling that hike up Mount Everest (Pillar: Achievements) with keeping your mom updated about your warm clothing (Pillar: Relationships). And this is true when it comes to conflicts at work (Relationships and Career). People are what makes a company or an organization. And where there are people, conflicts are inevitable.
There are, however, ways to avoid conflict from blowing up and it is essential that we learn how to manage them. Humans typically respond to one of the three known ways in such situations. Some shy away from conflict out of fear of getting involved too much. There are also those who talk about it but do nothing to resolve the main issue. And finally, there are an exceptional few that intentionally do something to resolve the conflict for the good of everyone involved. Practical action points on how to handle conflict at work would help employees establish a better environment in the workplace.
How to Handle Conflict at Work When You’re Part of the Problem
So, you find yourself in the middle of an issue with your boss or your officemate. Don’t panic, but don’t ignore the situation either. In this situation, grace, understanding, and humility play crucial roles. Here are some practical tips on how to handle conflict at work when you’re involved:
- Talk to the people you’re in conflict with. Make the first step. Nothing worsens a situation than ignoring the problem or shutting down people. Remember that emotional pain can take root and eventually worsen if not dealt with properly.
- Listen with the intent to understand and not to react. Don’t offer unsolicited advice. Make sure that when you approach people, you aim to genuinely understand where they are coming from. This step will help you get out of your head and see the deeper issues that lie beneath the ensuing conflict.
- Practice humility in speech and conduct. Be gracious and always keep in mind that you could have made the same mistake. Everyone in the office is a human being, and humans are prone to mistakes. (And that’s exactly what brought people to this conflict in the first place.)
- Remember the statement, “It takes two to tango.” You might not be the primary reason for the conflict, but if you’re part of it, you most probably have contributed to the problem or issue—even if it is just a smidge.
- Never skirt around the issue but take on the problem together head-on. Yes, speak the truth but don’t sugarcoat.
- Meet in the middle ground as you resolve the conflict with the people involved. Set aside emotions and focus on the facts. Then when all the talking is done, the best way to make sure that the reason that caused the conflict doesn’t repeat, you and the person you’re resolving the conflict with must have an agreement on how to move forward. Clear the things that need to stop, start, and improve. In doing so, all parties involved will be off to a great start.
- Don’t gossip about the conflict—especially after it’s been resolved. If you talk about it with people, especially with those who were not really part of the problem or the resolution, you’re just going to create another problem altogether.
How to Handle Conflict at Work When You’re Just a Bystander
First off, don’t get involved in all the drama. That wouldn’t be of any help to your co-workers or even you. So make sure that all your prejudices or biases are off the table and that you are only going to side with the truth. To handle conflict or in facing a scenario where people who are in the middle of a conflict, here are some simple tips on how to handle conflict that’s happening around you:
- Be ready to listen with the purpose of empathizing and not “pity-partying” with people.
- Don’t gossip or speculate about what you may know. Since what you know is most probably not the whole story because you are not part of the situation in the first place, you shouldn’t say anything that may cause other people confusion. If you do, that would create a bigger problem or even another conflict.
- Only help when explicitly asked by the people trying to resolve the conflict; otherwise, you’ll just come off as nosy, and your advice or help, may be a nuisance.
In the End, It’s All About Cultivating a Better Work Culture
In doing your part in handling conflict at the workplace, you’re already halfway to living a bolder life. Plus, you’re positively making an impact in your organization—a welcome thought to your leadership body. When all employees are focused on doing their part in handling conflict, a better work culture would naturally emerge. And that is one filled with people who value accountability, humility, communication, and trust.