How to Handle Workplace Conflicts

Employee Advice | PreviewMe | 10 August 2018

Conflicts are a natural part of any working environment. Naturally, some workplaces are more volatile than others, but in every office, tempers occasional flair and disagreements will be had.

In order to remain professional and defuse these situations when they arise, it is important you understand how to handle yourself appropriately.


Stay positive

When tensions are high, it’s important you’re able to maintain a positive frame of mind. Remember, most workplace conflicts aren’t because of personal matters, they are professional in nature. Thus, these disagreements will generally be forgotten over time.

Whether your manager sides with another party or you’re overlooked for a promotion, the best thing to do is to accept it and walk away. Don’t complain or lash out, this will only cement their decision. The best course of action is to get back to work and continue to improve.

By staying calm and positive during these situations you’ll demonstrate your professionalism and show management you can handle tough decisions. You never know, that might help you when the next big promotion arises.


Try to find a solution  

If left unresolved or escalated, workplace conflicts have the potential to tear businesses apart.

If you find yourself in a disagreement with a colleague or manager, instead of holding a grudge, try to come to an amicable solution.

The best thing to do is to openly discuss the issues with the individual whom you are disagreeing with. The ideal outcome is that a resolution that suits both parties will be agreed upon, even if that is to agree to disagree.

Resolving the conflict doesn’t mean you two need to be going for coffee every morning. But ideally, you’ll be able to carry on working together in a professional and productive manner.


What caused the issue?

In order to find a solution that works for everyone, you may need to spend some time figuring out what caused the issue in the first place. Trying to find the root of the conflict will also help you in the long run. As it will help you understand where you may need to improve or adapt your behaviour in the office.

There is a wide range of things that can cause tension in a workplace. Maybe it’s something that was said or the way a project was completed. Conversely, maybe it was because something wasn’t said or done.

Taking the time to understand what is causing a conflict, will not only help you, but it will also help to improve the office culture. As you’ll be able to put processes and checks around managing issues in the future.


Are you the problem?

One of the hardest aspects of any conflict is accepting that you may be at fault. No one likes admitting they are in the wrong, but, as a matter of professionalism, you may need to.

Admitting that you may be in the wrong takes a lot of humility and self-awareness, both great qualities in someone, so don’t think you’ll look weak. Obvious signs that you may be the cause include, appearing to always be at the centre of a disagreement or your colleagues having a shared negative opinion of you.

If this is the case, be prepared to make a few changes and rebuild some relationships.


Where to from here?

If your attempts at getting to the root of the issue fail or you can’t come to a civil solution, do you need to consider other options? If you want to take the matter further, be prepared to state your case.

It’s important you are able to back up your case with information, otherwise, you may find yourself in an awkward situation. So, make sure you keep track of all formal and informal correspondence regarding the issue.

Nobody wants to be apart of a conflict within the office, however, they are commonplace. Before you take any further action that may drastically affect the future of the involved parties, be sure you have done everything you can to resolve the issue in a professional and civil manner.