A Step By Step Guide To Handling Fights At Work

How to Resolve Conflicts at Work

Reduce the frequency of conflicts and accomplish mutually acceptable resolutions at work.

Conflicts and misunderstandings are facts of life.  The goal is to reduce the frequency and accomplish swift, mutually acceptable resolutions.  When conflict happens:

  • Meet with the other person and attempt to discover the source of your differences.  Each person should express personal opinions about how the differences began and the emotional reactions to what happened.
  • Each person should take notes about what the conflict means to the other.  Concentrate on understanding the other’s position without trying to refute it.
  • Each person should write a list of actions that might be taken to alleviate each other’s concerns. For example, if one person feels dominated by the other, they should devise a plan to take positive action to let the other person know what behaviors are unacceptable.
  • Meet with the other person again and share your plane to alleviate the situation.  You should agree on an appropriate course of action and commit yourselves to these actions.

If, at the end of one month, both people agree that they are taking positive action to resolve their differences, you are successful.

While conflict is inevitable, if conflict is not managed constructively, it will be an obstacle to accomplishing your objectives.

Over the next two week period:

  • Keep track of situations that involve interpersonal conflict or tension.
  • Note in particular your own reactions to each situation.  For example, do you back off from your point of view?  Do you become drawn into a win-lose confrontation?
  • Note the outcome of each situation.  For example, was the group unable to arrive at a decision?  Or, were you dissatisfied with the decision that was reached?

Over the subsequent two week period utilize the following suggestions each time you are in situations involving interpersonal conflict:

  • Recognize the importance to others of their own opinions and ideas.  Accept the fact that some people will never be completely persuaded toward your point of view.
  • State your opinion tactfully when things are not going as you think they should. 
  • Avoid getting into a win-lose frame of mind.  Be willing to collaborate or compromise.
  • Pause occasionally and ask yourself how genuinely are you listening to others’ points of view and attempting to them as well as your own in arriving at a decision.

 Prepare a list of outcomes for the second two week period.  Compare this with your earlier list and note differences that emerge.  For example, were you and others able to reach agreement in less time?  Were you more satisfied with the decisions that were made?

If the outcomes of conflict situations were generally more positive during the second two week period than during the first two week period, you will have success.

This article was originally published at The Blake Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission from the author.