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Five Tips to Manage Conflicts in the Workplace

People don’t always get along. This holds true whether we’re talking about individuals or groups of people, both in and outside the workplace. It’s human nature to dislike each other sometimes. Nevertheless it becomes problematic when disagreements between – for instance – your sales team and your marketing team lead to high tensions in the office. A situation like that calls for conflict management. But how do you manage workplace conflicts exactly? According to this article by Forbes there are five things you could try when you find out that your employees are turning the office into a conflict zone. Tip number one is…

#1 – Get to the bottom of the conflict

It’s important to truly understand the conflict at hand in order to come up with a solution. You should try talking to the individual sources of the disagreement and ask them about their insights. To maximize your chances of success, you want to bring a neutral mediator into these conversations; someone who is able to ask the right questions and triggers people to talk about their true feelings - without upsetting them even more. (This mediator could be HRhelp for example!)

#2 – Create more than two teams, have them mix

It’s highly likely that you have to form teams or departments within your company. But when doing so, try to create more than two of them. This gives you the opportunity to invite – for example – your product team into a brainstorm session with your sales and marketing team, who are known to clash with each other. The presence of a third department/team can help calm the conflict and generally offers new insights overall.

#3 – Never add fuel to the fire

When you notice certain employees are speaking about conflict in a ‘us-versus-them’ manner, speak up about it and try to de-escalate the situation right away. Remember that the office is not a place for such politics.

#4 – Don’t rush to the solution

This tip is somewhat similar to the first one: take your time to figure out what the conflict is all about. Don’t be too quick to react, instead get to the details first. Asses the situation by taking the time to talk with – and actually listen to – all parties involved. Be human. Empathize. This will help you a great deal when it comes to finding a resolution for any conflict at hand.

#5 – Ask the important questions

Humans tend to (over)simplify narratives when they are in a conflict, making things black and white. This lack of nuances can make conflicts that much harder to solve. So it can help you to ‘dig deeper’ when doing your conflict management. Ask questions that force people to put things in perspective. Most likely you will find that both the actual problem and the solution are not as initially expected by the parties involved.

Where these tips helpful to you? Or where they not applicable to your specific conflict management situation? In that case, you can always shoot us a message via our HRhelp contact form – or give us a call for some free advice. We are here to help you after all!

Michael Thurkow

+31 (0)6 536 006 76

Cornelis Leerlooijer

+31 (0)6 556 947 10

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