How to Avoid Conflict at Work

Workplace conflict is inevitable from time to time but what truly matters is how it is handled rather than trying to constantly avoid it. Some conflict is useful for resolving issues and ensuring that the workplace isn't just filled with people who are either playing yes-persons or are disengaged. Here are some ways to improve your conflict radar and avoid the unnecessary conflict that damages workplace cohesiveness.


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    Identify conflict. Dealing with a conflict at work can be tough. The aim is to to get your way but not at the expense of working relationships you are going to need to rely on later. Resolving conflicts is better than trying to “win” because this helps people on both sides feel as though their concerns were valid and considered. Reaching fair compromises will help to eliminate stress that will ultimately lower productivity levels.
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    Find out reasons. Any environment where people are charged and emotionally invested in the events taking place has room for conflict to happen. People are inevitably bound to have a disagreement on how things should be done which can lead to issues between those with differing opinions. You might also find that some people in your workspace are simply difficult to get along with or like to cause trouble for their own amusement which can lead to conflicts when feelings get hurt.
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    Identify the type of conflict. A very common conflict in the workplace stems from those that feel that their efforts are being under-appreciated. If someone is taking credit for your work or your suggestions are being ignored it can lead to conflict with the person causing this disagreement.
    • Frustration is also a very common source of conflict. If someone received a promotion or bonus it can lead to jealousy, particularly if others feel as though these benefits were earned unfairly. Disagreements in the workplace can also be personal.
    • When you see the same people every day their habits can become irritating. If someone is messy, loud or confrontational it can make it difficult to focus on work.
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    Understand what social scientists say about conflicts. Ultimately, conflict in the workplace is bad for business so social scientists are frequently called in to help people understand the cause of conflicts and how to resolve them. Scientific studies suggest that 37 percent of employees feel as though they are bullied at their job which is the ultimate source of their conflict issues.[citation needed]
    • It has also been suggested that people consider a disagreement in the workplace to be a conflict if one of their basic human needs is not being met.[citation needed] Understanding the emotion behind the conflict and what is ultimately causing the disagreement can help you find the optimal solution for releasing the tension.
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    Avoid the conflict altogether. It’s always best to address a conflict sooner rather than later. This helps to avoid excess tension that can build up over time. Start by asking nicely if you don’t understand why someone has behaved a certain way or if they can change their behavior.
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    Avoid making accusations and work to keep your tone neutral. In many cases, people do not realize they have caused offense when conflicts arise. Apologize for any part you may have played in the situation.
    • Try to set a goal for resolving the conflict with the other person. Perhaps you want to communicate more, get more personal space in the office or have quiet when on the phone. If both parties understand the goals, it is easier for everyone to work toward common ground.
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    Cope with the stress conflicts cause. Dealing with conflicts at work can be stressful but you cannot let this impact your ability to do your job. It is perfectly healthy to vent your frustrations, but work to do this away from the office where there is no risk of negative comments being overheard or passed back to others. This will only make the conflict worse. If you are having trouble resolving a conflict and it has gone on for some time, consider working with a mediator to help dissolve some of the tension.

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Categories: Workplace Conflicts Coping and Issues | Articles in Need of Sources