Interpersonal relationships are hard, especially in the workplace. No two people are alike, and when you add work-related stressors into the equation, it can only heighten and aggravate these differences, causing conflicts to occur. So, what are the appropriate steps to handle conflict with your co-worker?

The 4 Steps to Overcoming Conflict in the Workplace    

Speak Face-to-Face with Your Co-Worker to Address the Conflict

When a conflict occurs between yourself and a co-worker, address it quickly. Whether your dispute is based on a mean comment or perceived slight, it’s best to talk about your feelings with your co-worker face-to-face in a neutral, calm setting. Express your issues and let them express theirs. Many times, this strategy will quickly resolve any miscommunication and prevent the situation from progressing.

When Trying to Come to a Resolution, Listen and Empathize

If, after the initial airing of feelings, the conflict still exists, it’s time to try to work toward a resolution with your co-worker. Again, speak face to face, so nothing gets lost or misconstrued in text or email. As you express your feelings on the continued conflict, try to come to a resolution. The best way to do this is to listen to your co-worker and allow them to speak without interruption (they should also afford you the opportunity to talk without interruption, as well). While listening, try putting yourself in your co-worker’s shoes and try to empathize with their feelings and situation. In attempting to understand your co-worker, you may find common ground that could move you closer to a resolution.

Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire: Don’t Gossip Behind Your Co-workers Back

Once you have come to a resolution, it’s best to keep the details of your dispute between the two of you. Don’t involve third-parties in your conversations or openly discuss your co-worker with other colleagues. Office gossip can cause hurt feelings to grow and ruin any chance of your resolution staying in place. Also, gossip not only can affect your relationship with your co-worker, but it can create a toxic environment for those around you.

Know When to Seek Outside Guidance from Supervisors

While its best to try to resolve a conflict with a co-worker on your own, certain cases require guidance from supervisors or management. For example, if your co-worker has harassed you in a violent nature that should immediately go up the chain of command. Also, if you co-worker has made any comments that are against your religion, gender, race, disability, or sexual orientation that also merits the attention of your supervisors. Finally, if after trying to work through a conflict on your own without success it may be time to reach out to your supervisor or management for further guidance and support.

Moving Past Conflict

Conflicts between co-workers are a natural occurrence. While most disputes can be handled with simple conflict resolution, others require the assistance of supervisors or management. If you find yourself in a work environment that is filled with conflict and you can’t find a reasonable resolution, maybe it’s time to re-think your current job. At New Era HR Solutions, we help candidates find the ideal work environment for them to grow, thrive, and succeed. Contact a New Era HR Solutions staffing specialist today to find your next job!


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