Managing Conflicts at Work

photo: courtesy of www.mindtools.com

photo: courtesy of http://www.mindtools.com

Conflicts at work are largely inevitable. While some may be subtle and easily ignored, dismissed or avoided, others could be more obstructive -capable of stalling progress until it is resolved.

We each have our unique perspectives of what triggers conflict. Similarly, our preferred approach to dealing with conflict situations varies widely.

Conflict could be brought about by just about anything – the unhelpful personal assistant, the non-participating team member and those who generally come across as ‘wrong’ are all potential triggers.

photo: courtesy of welearnindia.wordpress.com

photo: courtesy of welearnindia.wordpress.com

In some spheres, what I find as being a common source of conflict include: dissenting opinions; a proposition for change; a suggestion/push for process improvement, a power struggle or even an ego trip.

When conflicts arise in the office, it’s important to identify the root cause, and determine if it’s merely a personality clash or a constructive issue at stake. At the very heart of many conflicts is a possibility for improvement or growth. In numerous cases, the best decisions have thrived because they were developed amidst tremendous opposition and refined by criticism.

In researching for a practical approach to resolving conflict at work, I observed that most shared a common theme.

Maintaining a calm disposition, talking it through with the other party, taking responsibility, separating the issues from the person, seeking a respected mediator, listening to the other’s point of view as well as consulting with HR were mostly suggested.

I particularly found these articles on managing conflict interesting: One by Alexander Kjerulf and another by Lee Jay Berman (I won’t tell, indulge away 🙂 ).

In my opinion, “it’s business and not personal.” Individuals must be careful to distinguish between the two. Shying away from conflict situations won’t solve it, neither would allowing yourself be won over every time. I would rather a situation where we are able to ‘win at work even in the face of conflict’.

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3 thoughts on “Managing Conflicts at Work

  1. People who come across as wrong are the worst. You can almost pity them cos some times they don’t even know they have robbed you the wrong way. We had a guy in my office who always argued his point even with the boss. Talked off point and danced in the conference room. Douche bag. To talk to you he’d come so close, you’d have to step back a bit or just walk away. We tried to accommodate him but eventually conflicts broke out. Well, he got “let go” after a 16 year old intern cried to her mum that he was inappropriate around her and almost kissed her. Poor kid, hehehe…

  2. A typical cause of conflict which I have observed especially in the public sector is one that stems from power tussle. Where people undo one another just to clinch position. The effect of conflict is strongly felt when decision making in the workplace are now based on pride and prejudice. It is capable of blinding the most sensitive person and tends to create factional lines especially when the tension is between two senior staff. One should be careful not to allow conflicts no matter the magnitude to influence his/her disposition towards others in the office. I also strongly believe that staying calm is one of the strongest antidote to conflict resolution, because your action can escalate or abate the tension. As much as it is within our power one should position oneself as a bridge builder (peacemaker), it will somehow shield one from taking sides.

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