5 Ways to Handle Workplace Conflict

Disagreements at work are unavoidable. Since a lot of people spend more time at their jobs than they do in their own homes, it’s important that the office environment is enjoyable and respectful. To make this possible, you must know how to handle workplace conflict when it arises.

Expect Conflict

At any job, you should expect that you will have to deal with disagreements with your coworkers, but working through it is part of being a professional.

“Each workplace is different, but no matter where you go, everyone you work with has a different personality. We all handle situations differently, and sometimes we clash,” says Natalie Busse, career services coordinator for Globe University. “You have to learn how to work with all types of personalities.”

Take Preventative Measures 

Issues with coworkers may build up over time, and they can come to a head, resulting in major conflict. Prevent this from happening by giving yourself time to put together a plan to avoid a complete blowup. 

“Make sure you gather your thoughts and determine what the best way to handle it is,” says Busse.

It’s also important to avoid getting involved with other coworkers’ conflicts. If you’re an intern or in an entry level positon, it can show you’re not ready for more responsibility.

“If you can, remain neutral. Don’t pick sides. You could be picking the wrong side, which can hurt you too,” Busse says. “Getting wrapped up in conflict can hurt your chances of moving up in the company or getting a recommendation in the future.”

Determine the Real Issue

When you conflict with a coworker, you must figure out what the root of the problem is.

Is it a communication issue? Difference of opinion? Personal matter getting in the way? 

Busses recommends determining what is truly causing the rift between you before addressing it.

“The difference in personalities is most likely the problem,” she says. “Maybe you just don’t like how they do things because that’s not the way you would do it.”

Before you enter into conflict, really think about if it is a work problem or if you’re just taking something too personally or using an underlying issue as an excuse to disagree about something work-related.

Identify the End Result

Once you’ve narrowed down what is really triggering the problem, you can begin to work on a solution. Most of the time, you will have to come to a compromise that works for both parties.

“Think about what the resolution would be in a perfect world and the steps taken to get there,” Busse says. “Do you need to set up a meeting with the other person to discuss the issue? Will it be one-on-one or do you need to include your boss?”

Busse stresses the importance of the chain of command and that getting supervisors involved may be necessary, but she warns about being respectful of managers’ time.

Stay Calm

If you find yourself in the middle of a conflict at work, Busse says the most important thing to remember is to remain calm.

“If you feel like you’re going to explode, take a deep breath,” says Busse. “Take a break, go for a walk or grab some coffee or a treat. Clear your head and come back with a new mindset. It will give you time to think and prepare a proper response.” 

Busse warns that acting instinctively might not be the right way to handle the situation, and you can’t take that back. Going with your first reaction could also be dire to your job.

It is to be expected that you will butt heads with other employees due to differing personalities. Keep in mind that no two conflicts are the same, and you need to remain professional and handle conflict in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your career opportunities. To learn more about Globe University and career support services visit www.globeuniversity.edu/about-us/career-services.