Tap to Read ➤

Careful! Handling Conflicts in the Workplace Can Be Gruesome

Omkar Phatak Nov 18, 2018
Workplace conflicts and friction need to be dealt with, if one wants an organization to gel as a team and work together towards a goal.
Where there are people, there are bound to be disagreements, misunderstandings, and ego clashes, leading to conflicts. Workplaces can be inherently stressful, if they are converted into an arena, where every employee thinks that he is in a competition. Healthy competition is good, but sometimes it turns nasty.

Reasons for a Conflict

Only if you get to the root cause of a conflict, can you resolve it, otherwise, it stays simmering underneath.
Here is a list of some of them:
  • 'I am Always Right' Attitude: This kind of attitude shows a lack of respect and tolerance, for the views of other people. Some people refuse to acknowledge that there are many ways to get the same thing done and more than one may be right. This attitude leads to hurt egos at times, which may lead to clashes later.
  • Resource Sharing: With limited resources, a conflict may arise due to their unequal sharing.
  • Priorities: In a workplace, the priorities of people are linked to each other's work, as they work in a team. Sometimes, messed up priorities, leading to loss of link in work flow, may lead to a fight.
  • Misunderstandings: This is the prime source.
  • Power Struggles: The age-old 'struggle for power' syndrome, may lead to fights, most of the time, in any workplace.
  • Values:When people with opposite set of values come together, clashes are inevitable.

How to Handle Them Effectively

Workplace conflicts among co-workers can be a cause or product of stress in the work environment. They should not be ignored, as they may eventually lead to fracturing of an organization, decreased productivity, and the loss of valuable employees.
Conflicts are bad but disagreements are good. Disagreements are indicators, that people are thinking independently. So, if there is a disagreement on an issue or decision, between you and an employee, you will get a new perspective of things.
You need independently thinking minds, but you also need them to obey your final veto power at times. Handling conflicts and motivating your team to do better, is an art which every head of an organization, must master. Here are some tips.

Make Peace

Most of the conflicts can be resolved, with just reaching out to the other person and communicating frankly. You need to be tactful. Yelling at him/her is not at all advised. Instead, state facts and make him realize how his or her behavior is adversely affecting your work, calmly.
Request him/her to do something about it. Make him realize that you are a team and you do not want this to boil into a full-scale fight and that you both are in the same boat. Make him comfortable by saying that you will correct your ways, if your behavior too is affecting him/her, in any way.

Get a Mediator, Have a Sit Down

When differences between you and your co-worker go to the point, where even communicating plainly becomes impossible, it's time for a sit-down, with a mediator.
The mediator should be one whom you both trust, for his unbiased opinion on things or the immediate superior of you both. This task of handling conflict between employees is a delicate matter, which needs to be done tactfully. Let him hear you both out and give his opinion on the issue.
Listen to whatever he suggests, as it will be in the best interest of the organization. Make a truce. You do not have to like each other, but you should be able to work with each other. Personal differences need to be kept aside sometimes, for the good of the organization.

Think Win/Win

One way of avoiding clashes is thinking win/win. Talk and make each other understand, how both of you may benefit from resolving your differences. Think positively, it helps.

Respect Each Other

Even if you do not approve of their ways, their approach, or do not like each other, you can still respect every person who does his job. In the end, we all just want to do our jobs.

Listen to Each Other

A lot of misunderstandings could be avoided, if only people listen to each other. Listen completely to what your colleague wants to say, before reacting with preconceived ideas.

Choose Words Carefully

Sometimes, words hurt unnecessarily. Why use strong words when a soft word can get things done easily? Choose your words carefully, as they go far.
You can avoid unnecessary verbal clashes and duels, by simply putting what you want to say, in straightforward and simple words, without any implied barbs. That way, you make your life simpler and save some precious moments of your life, which you would have uselessly spent in arguing.

Let your Work Speak for Itself

Sometimes, the best strategy is to just focus on your work and let it speak for itself. Just don't involve yourself in office politics. Ultimately, what matters to your organization is your performance. You will automatically command respect for being a guy who does his job.
When you focus totally on what you are doing, you do not have time for getting disturbed by anybody.
There will never be a perfect workplace, with perfect employees, as we do not live in a perfect world. Besides, we are humans and not automatons. We suffer from irrational quirks and sometimes, our emotions override rational logic. So, a workplace is never entirely going to be free from clashes, but we can always try to maintain peace and good will.