Resolve conflict, don’t create it

Conflict in the workplace comes up now and then, but resolving issues, not fuelling them, is better for business. Here’s how…

So much conflict can be avoided at work – sadly many people create it and fuel it rather than resolve it.


There are six practical techniques to resolve conflict in the workplace and achieve effective results.

  1. Look inwards
    Start by thinking about yourself and how you manage conflict. Identify your own personality style in a conflict situation. Maybe you are someone that sweeps everything under the carpet but fumes later – this is not a way to resolve conflict, nor is being passive and non-assertive, and just giving in. The best thing to do is to be co-operative, work together to solve the issues of disagreement. Say things like: “Let’s work together to fix this” or “let’s do what we can to work this out now”.
  2. Identify other’s style
    Try and work out how the other person is behaving. Then consider appropriate ways of responding. If they are avoiding dealing with it, ask questions and probe. If they are being loud and aggressive, avoid arguing back, instead show empathy and try to understand why they are so upset and angry. And for someone quiet and non-assertive, encourage them to articulate issues. Get them out on the table.
  3. Use communication skills
    One of the most important things to do in any conflict is to maintain or even build rapport. Rapport building means using eye contact, nodding, using “we” and “us” words. Make sure you are listening carefully – regularly summarise what has been said, for example “so it sounds like you are annoyed about…” Avoid being rigid and stuck, or cutting the other person off. Display flexibility – offer creative suggestions for alternative ways to do things.
  4. Use reflective questions
    Throw to the other person for ideas, and use open questions like how, why, please explain or describe, or tell me. This ensures active involvement, and above all encourages ownership of possible strategies to fix the situation.
  5. Use positive reinforcement
    It’s very important to acknowledge the other person’s suggestions and ideas. Praise a good idea or positive suggestions and acknowledge attempts to do the right thing. When you reward the other person it shows you are flexible, and they will be more open to your ideas.
  6. Use a logical approach
    You need to achieve clarity on the differences between you, and spell them out clearly. Choose an appropriate approach to meet each other’s needs, for example a stepped agreement where you agree to the first small step, then when that is achieved you move to the next step. You may need to consider getting more information to be able to resolve the issue then and there, or perhaps consider whether others can assist. Staying calm and logical will be a good role model for the other person to do the same.

It’s sad when people stay stuck on negativity and aggravation, and are prepared to let it stay like that. Peace and harmony are more likely to lead to good health, than aggravation and upset. It’s not that hard to achieve.





Eve Ash is a psychologist and co-producer with Peter Quarry of 6 Ways to Resolve Conflict © Ash.Quarry Productions, and also the co-creator of the Conflict Management Indicator – a 360 degree assessment tool now in 15 languages.


Watch the video: 6 Ways To Resolve Conflict


To read more Eve Ash blogs, click here.



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