A Guide to Resolve Conflicts at Workplace

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“Don’t fear conflict; embrace it- it’s your job.”

Here is the thing- conflict and workplace go hand in hand. A workplace is an amalgamation of a variety of people, coming from different backgrounds with a different outlook, all with an aim to achieve success. With an environment so diverse, conflict is part and parcel. While you can try and avoid conflict, which in itself is a bad idea, you just cannot escape it.

Conflict as a sharp disagreement or opposition of interest or ideas. However, the base for a conflict can be subjective.  The fact of the matter is conflict in the workplace is inevitable. It is like the air; it is everywhere, one needs to know how to purify it, filter it and work towards making it healthier. A conflict avoided is like instigating a volcano, which will erupt and cause a rift in the organization. The ability to recognize the conflict, understand where it comes from and able to form a joint- ground to resolve it, eases the workplace scenario and contributes to a healthier and positive office culture.

 How many times have you witnessed situations where otherwise savvy professionals lead the path of self-destructing because they wouldn’t engage out of fear of conflict? By having rational views or burying one’s head in the sand with the hope that the conflict will pass you by is a dangerous method for problem-solving. A conflict aggravates if not proactively tackled with.  To completely resolve a conflict, the essential approach is to go its roots- the causes. 


Causes of Conflict

#1 Communication Gap

Poor communication at workplace leads to misunderstandings which creates conflict. For example, if a boss is unable to express openly his expectation and delegate work, many times that can lead to mistakes, misunderstanding and finally conflicts. More often than not, employees, in such situations, may choose to bury the matter due to fear of losing their job or position, which causes even more frustration.


#2 Different Value systems

Different people see the world differently. This gives rise to various values and opinions. Conflict occurs when there is a lack of acceptance of these values and understanding the differences in personalities. This also causes personality clashes between employees. A challenge being faced in most organizations, as an example of differences between the various generations.


# 3 Competitive behavior

What worsens the matter is using emotional deceit as a weapon of destruction. Every workplace is plagued with manipulative employees who use emotional tirades like blame-shifting, small lies, etc., to create conflict to cover-up for their lack of substance.  If not tackled the right way, this leads to an overall downfall of the organization.


#4 Overpowering Emotions 

Emotion is both a blessing and a curse. This language of the soul can destroy if you let it harness the chariot of decisions.  At the workplace, you will often witness that people tend to succumb to conflict situations due to intense emotions. Employees throw a fit of rage and conclude only to realize the damage caused by the heat of the moment. Emotions are controlling and therefore should be used at the right time and place.


Having said this, the human nature is unpredictable akin to changing weather; therefore no matter how much you avoid a situation, conflicts are bound to happen. So the next question that arises is how to deal with conflict in an unbiased manner and build a work environment that accepts and addresses it.


Addressing And Managing Conflict

Some amount of conflict is desirable. Without conflicting ideas, allowing people to express their diverse opinions, we would not get the best ideas to surface. I once worked for an organization, where they needed to reach the market quickly, and created two independent teams to work on the same product, and eventually took the best parts for the final version.


But we should avoid unnecessary conflict, and take steps by expressing the behavior expected of employees. Mention what is accepted by him/her, the chain of work delivery. Also, stress on sound practices, policies and what is allowed and what is not.

Create an innovative culture where people understand that expressing diverse views is encouraged for the purpose of greater end outcome; communication means dialog, where there is equal parts of speaking and listening; where everyone has a voice and are able to express without fear of chain of command; the process of discussion is constructive and not to find faults; and finally drive a collaborative outcome which once decided, everyone adheres to and not to create unhealthy competition.


Organizational Support

Employees too need a guide to help them on this journey, especially when they experience bumps. Ensure that your HR or team leader is always available in stressful work matters. If a team leader can figure out something unusual, they need to confront the concerned employees.  

Another useful measure will be conducting frequent training programmes for employees which highlight the above process. This will enhance their problem-solving skills and also understand their workmates better.

 Resolution is not rocket science; no matter how grave the conflict is, it can be resolved. It may not be an easy task to confront, but when there is a sincere desire to solve something, it can be done.