Conflicts are common in life, personally and professionally. Sometimes problems don’t go away and can make life stressful. As society changes, new issues evolve where adaptability is necessary. Due to different personalities, sometimes people clash in a professional setting. Everyone has unique coping mechanisms and approaches to problems. Solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. When dealing with conflict at work, an employee may decide to go to their direct supervisor. Leaders need to have the right people in the right positions. If leadership does not resolve conflict promptly, they’ll likely fail in their role.
Whether you work on a virtual team or in person, conflict can arise for various reasons. Missing deadlines or not getting along with other staff members can cause conflict. If management or the HR department doesn’t step in to resolve the tension, it can boil over. Everyone faces real-life issues despite being a leader or employee of an organization. Leaving your personal problems out of your professional life sometimes gets difficult. Stress manifests and can impact one’s physical health, resulting in callouts. It’s vital to have respectful relationships with your co-workers and managers.
Here are some quick tips on dealing with conflict at work, regardless of your position.
- Prioritize Work-Life Balance
If you’re a workaholic or Type A personality, you more than likely toss your personal life to the side. Start setting professional boundaries and hold yourself accountable. Clock out at the end of your shift, don’t stay late, and take breaks when needed. Prevent burnout by tracking your progress. If you don’t take a step back, you’ll already be on edge when conflict arises. Stretching yourself too thin can cause you to blow up when facing tense situations. Achieving a work-life balance makes life more enjoyable overall. Do things outside of work that you enjoy and focus on yourself.
- Put Your Personal Feelings Aside
When dealing with conflict at work, emotions can run high. You have to remain level-headed instead of letting your temper prevail. Regardless of how you feel, don’t let it impact your job. Instead of spewing out demeaning rhetoric, stay silent. If you need to remove yourself and walk away, calmly tell the other party or manager. Even if you go in the bathroom and cry, don’t let the tension escalate. You don’t want to display an array of negative emotions, like anger or sadness.
- Work on Strengthening Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
EQ has five factors that you can focus on and put effort into improving. Self-awareness, discipline, empathy, communication, and motivation. You can hone these skills through personal and professional development. Empathy is developed in early childhood but can be strengthened as an adult. Through discipline and motivation, you can practice strengthening your EQ. Emotional intelligence helps when dealing with conflict at work.
- Listening and Observing Body Language
These two traits fall under emotional intelligence as part of socialization skills. Listen to your co-workers and leaders when they speak and communicate clearly. Also, observe and pay attention to others’ body language to understand them. Learn physical stances people may take when dealing with conflict at work. For example, having both hands on the hips indicates being ready for confrontation. Reading body language in a professional setting helps you handle issues better.
- Establish Healthy Relationships at Work
Since you spend a lot of time with co-workers, you want to have a healthy relationship. You don’t need to be best friends but should be civil with one another. If you’re part of a virtual team, there’s a lot of digital communication or video calls. Things can get taken out of context and misconstrued since you’re not face to face. Stop and ask questions if you don’t understand something. One bit of miscommunication can derail a group’s workflow. Compliment and thank other team members and even your boss every now and then. It makes it easier to deal with conflict at work when you get along.
- Identify Root Causes of Problems
If there’s tension in your professional environment, try and identify what causes it. Problems can stem from an employee’s lack of effort or another always being late. If you’re a member of management, you need to identify then address the issues. For employees, reflect on what’s going wrong and causing conflict at work. If you need to adjust something, take the initiative to do it. If the problems are bigger than you, you need to get leadership involved.
Managers or human resource coordinators may have to step in and resolve the conflict. Workplaces can implement process improvement strategies to address issues. Putting a plan in place can generate effective solutions. If you’re in a leadership role and enjoy reading, The Tao of Management gives a unique perspective. You can gain insight and reflect on how you lead to see what you want to improve. The book is also a great resource for those aspiring to develop their career further.