Ever been in a conflict at work?
Ever run into an argument with a colleague or a senior in the office?
Ever had an issue with HR or the office admin?
Conflicts are inevitable at work. Just imagine this.
- You are working in close proximity for nearly 10 hours a day, often in high-pressure scenarios, with a group of people of diverse backgrounds, socio-economic status, and education.
- You may have conflicting priorities at times.
- You may be competing for the same resources (ever had to argue with a colleague who insisted on sitting on his ‘favourite’ chair always?)
As a matter of fact, conflicts are a normal and healthy part of any relationship – personal or professional.
What makes the difference is how you deal with it. When the inevitable conflict arises, how do you tackle it?
Here is a simple 5 step process you can apply to resolve workplace conflicts without escalation:
- Do not make it personal – Remember, your workplace is not your family. You are all professionals, paid to work together. There is no need to make the conflict personal. Removing your ego from the equation will also allow you to look at all angles of the issue dispassionately.
- Focus on Solution – Every conflict moves through three stages:
- Initiation – when the issue is raised and all the parties become aware of it
- Investigation – when the issue is debated, in an attempt to uncover the extent of the problem
- Immediate action– when the issue is sought to be resolved, with a focus on a productive outcome and clear next actions to achieve it.
The trick is to move to the Immediate action stage as fast as possible while giving enough time to the investigation stage to make sure everyone has had a chance to make their stance clear.
- Review options – Iterate multiple solution options within the involved team, so that everyone feels like they are a part of the eventual resolution. Not all options will end in a win-win situation, and that is okay.
- Communicate – Clearly articulate the agreed-upon solution within the team. If it’s an important matter, capture the outcome by email and circulate it to the broader team, so that there is a written record.
Conflicts are inevitable. Chaos isn’t.