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How to Address Conflict in a Job Setting

by Faizah Imani

Whenever there is conflict in the workplace, it can have a negative impact on employee morale. Low morale typically results in reduced productivity, which ultimately affects your employer. If you find yourself dealing with conflict on your job, there is a specific protocol you can follow to address it. If you are unable to address the conflict on your own, or feel uncomfortable doing so, your employer is there to assist you.

Identify the source of the conflict. For instance, if a number of co-workers are involved, there may be one specific co-worker at the root of the conflict. Identifying the source of the conflict may require you to sit back and observe or discern the situation for a moment before addressing it.

Write down your observations in a “conflict journal.” This journal provides documentation of each incident that happens, including the date, time, location, involved parties and witnesses.

Avoid addressing the conflict in front of other co-workers. Instead, advise the individual that you would like to meet with him one-on-one. You don't have to mention what the meeting is about. Otherwise, he may choose not to meet with you.

Meet with the co-worker causing the conflict to discuss the matter. The goal is to remain calm during the meeting and focus on the ultimate objective, which is to resolve the conflict in a peaceable manner. Don't be accusatory, argumentative, defensive or condescending during the meeting. Get your point across without sounding as if you are casting blame.

Give your co-worker time to speak and provide feedback during the meeting. Allow him to express his point of view. Perhaps he was unaware of the conflict he was causing. Before leaving the room, try to agree on a resolution to the problem.

Write down the results of the meeting in your conflict journal. Include the date of the meeting, what was said and whether or not the issue was resolved in the room. Wait a few days or weeks to see if the matter is truly resolved.

Get management involved if the conflict continues past the one-on-one meeting. Advise management of some of the details documented in your conflict journal. Advise management that you tried to resolve the matter on your own, to no avail. It may be necessary to explain how this conflict is impacting your morale or the morale of other employees. Suggest a resolution. For instance, you may desire to be switched to a different team or assignment. Perhaps you want your co-worker switched to another team.

Step back and let management handle the situation. If management does not handle the situation, you have to decide if it is worth it to pursue the matter further. For instance, larger corporations have human resource offices that allow you to file grievances. If you file a grievance, the human resource office is allotted a specific amount of time to investigate and address your concern. This allotted time frame is usually within 30 to 45 days of the date your grievance form is submitted. However, the exact time frame varies by company.

Tip

  • Write down bullet point notes before having your conflict resolution meeting. These bullet points help keep you on track during the one-on-one meeting to ensure you say everything that needs to be said.

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