It’s natural that in a work setting, everyone might not always get along. You may have disagreements within your team about how to do the work efficiently. Personalities might clash, or there might be some jealousy among coworkers.
While natural, disagreements at work can be very disruptive to the whole team and bring down morale in the workplace. It’s important to know how to navigate disagreements at work, whether you’re in that disagreement or you’re a team leader who needs to mediate the disagreement. Here are our tips for how to handle disagreements at work.
Most of the time, the things people are arguing about and the root cause of the conflict are different. Sometimes, people don’t even realize what they’re really upset about. As a team leader, or as someone trying to resolve the conflict, it’s important to get to the heart of the matter. Consider all people involved in the conflict. What needs do they have that aren’t being met? When you know the root cause of the conflict, it’s that much easier to resolve.
Don’t air out the issues in front of the entire team. Instead, find a private place to discuss the argument. If you’re a team leader or manager, you might invite the people involved in the conflict to your office. There you can discuss the situation away from prying ears. Determine what each person needs in order to return to work peacefully.
Once the discussion is over, remind the involved parties to be professional in their conversations. It’s likely that they will tell other coworkers how the issue was resolved, but those conversations should be mature. It shouldn’t be done in a spiteful way that could fan the flames of the conflict.
If you are mediating this conflict, you can’t take sides before the entire story is out. Let everyone have equal time sharing their side of the story. Only once you know every angle of the conflict can you focus on a way to resolve it. Listen to each person involved carefully and without judgment. You may be responsible for reprimanding employees who are out of line; but while gathering information, the only thing you need to do is listen.
Work conflict can get especially messy when the entire office gets involved. People take sides, work becomes interrupted, and bitterness and resentment build up throughout the team. That’s why it’s important not to involve the rest of the office. Stick to relevant people in the conflict and encourage them not to get others involved. If others try to involve themselves, remind them that it’s not their place and that you are focused on resolving the conflict.
When resolving the conflict, it’s important to focus on what happened and on the behavior, not on the personalities. Avoid saying things like “you always do this…” or “you’re the type of person who…” Don’t make assumptions based on the people involved. To stay impartial and focused on resolution, you’ll need to stick to just the facts. This can also help to deescalate emotions in the conflict if no one feels like the conflict is being taken personally.
Workplace conflict may feel frustrating or exhausting to handle, but it’s not something you want to ignore. As soon as you know about the workplace conflict, you want to pull both parties together to resolve the issue. The longer you wait, the more it will drag down your entire workplace. If you’re involved in a workplace conflict, ask the other person to talk it out with you privately before resentment builds up.
As a manager, you may feel that it’s your responsibility to come up with a solution and then dole it out to those involved in the conflict. If you want to effectively resolve a workplace conflict, though, you should involve the relevant parties in the decision process. Brainstorm potential solutions together and discuss what would work best.
This will help your team members to feel valued and heard. It can also help people in the midst of a disagreement to find common ground and understand each other. When you make the decision alone, it might be an incomplete resolution that causes more conflict later on. If you collaborate with the people involved, you can find something that works for everyone.