How to avoid or overcome workplace conflicts

No matter how welcoming and inclusive an office setting is, conflicts can still arise. Minor events may blow over, but there may be instances when some intervention may be needed.

Research conducted by the personality assessment consultancy OPP, in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, found that 85 percent of working professionals have to deal with conflict at some point.

Conflict shouldn’t be feared, as it can sometimes be good for a company. It’s an indicator that some are willing to step up and go to bat for their ideas, even if not everyone agrees with their particular vision. But steps can be taken to minimize blow-ups and resolve conflict in effective ways.

• Improve positive outlooks. Positive people may be better equipped to deal with adversity and stress. Boosting morale and improving on positivity in the workplace can make going to work more pleasant for all involved and potentially reduce the likelihood of serious conflicts.

• Encourage everyone to be team players. Certain people may naturally gravitate toward one another, but cliques or overly tight-knit groups at the office should be discouraged. These groups can make others feel alienated, a prime reason for arguments and conflict. If someone is trying to rally supporters for the wrong reasons, other employees should decline and say they value working with everyone.

• Don’t encourage drama. Encourage employees to share concerns openly and not through gossip.

• Address and validate people’s feelings and opinions. According to Brittany Hodak, an entrepreneur and keynote speaker, humans are emotional creatures and conflict can happen when feelings get hurt. Employees who are involved in situations should be spoken to immediately. Ensure them that their feelings are being noted and address any issues immediately and straightforwardly.

• Communicate respectfully. Draft emails and text messages carefully because tone may be implied when others are not able to hear you or read body language. Communication can be direct, but it should never be nasty.

• Avoid personality clashes. Employees should be able to work together, but some may just not prove compatible. No one needs to be best friends, but they should be civil. If personalities clash, these employees may be best suited to separate teams or projects to minimize interaction.

Conflicts can occur in the workplace. But when properly addressed, conflicts can make for a better, more inclusive workplace.

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