The Delicate Art of Handling Workplace Conflict

In a recent report, findings indicated that 85% of employees across organizational levels experience conflict in the workplace; the study suggests that employee conflicts cost companies $359 billion per year in lost productivity.

In the dynamic landscape of professional relationships, encountering workplace conflicts of various kinds is not uncommon. These conflicts, if left unaddressed though, can significantly impede employee and business performance and hinder overall organizational progress. 

Navigating such delicate situations requires a high degree of professionalism, emphasizing communication geared towards constructive resolutions rather than prolonging disputes.

“The better able team members are to engage, speak, listen, hear, interpret, and respond constructively, the more likely their teams are to leverage conflict rather than be leveled by it.” – Runde and Flanagan

Here are five tips that can help maintain a higher degree of professionalism while addressing conflicts at the workplace:

Comprehensive Understanding of the Conflict and Underlying Factors:

Achieving a resolution begins with a thorough comprehension of the conflict’s intricacies and the underlying factors contributing to it. Both parties must engage in open dialogue, calmly, dissecting each element of the conflict to address them individually. 

This process entails active listening, wherein each party seeks to understand the perspectives, motivations, and emotions driving the conflict. Moreover, it involves examining the broader context in which the conflict arose, such as organisational culture, workload pressures, or miscommunication between team members.

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Focus on Effective and Polite Business Communication:

Professionalism in conflict resolution hinges on clear and respectful business communication. Conducting formal meetings, maintaining detailed records of discussions, and documenting proposed solutions are essential steps in fostering a conducive environment for resolving conflicts between parties. 

Effective communication entails not only expressing one’s own viewpoint but also actively listening to the perspectives of others. It involves using language that is neutral, non-confrontational, and focused on problem-solving rather than blame attribution. 

Moreover, it encompasses being mindful of non-verbal cues such as body language and tone of voice, as these can influence the perception of one’s message.

Embracing Trial and Error:

Resolving workplace conflicts often entails a process of trial and error. 

Recognize that finding a viable solution may require multiple attempts and a willingness to explore diverse approaches. It is essential to approach conflict resolution with flexibility and adaptability, accepting that what works in one situation may not necessarily work in another. 

Embracing a growth mind-set allows individuals and teams to view conflicts as opportunities for learning and improvement rather than as obstacles to be avoided. 

By experimenting with different strategies and being open to feedback, parties involved in a conflict can iterate towards a resolution that meets the needs of all key business stakeholders: which should ultimately be the end goal.

Demonstrating Consideration and Empathy:

Approach conflict resolution with empathy and consideration of all viewpoints involved. Foster an environment where all suggestions are valued, and discussions are driven with an open-minded attitude. 

Empathy can facilitate understanding and pave the way for mutually acceptable solutions in the long term and can prevent a further hampering of inter-personal relationships at the workplace. 

It involves putting oneself in the shoes of others, acknowledging their emotions and perspectives, and demonstrating a genuine desire to find common ground. 

Adopting and Implementing Solutions Professionally:

Once a resolution is agreed upon, commit to its implementation with diligence and professionalism. Ensure that proposed solutions are practical and actionable, focusing on tangible outcomes. 

It’s crucial that neither party harbors personal grudges or dwells on past conflicts, fostering a culture of forgiveness and moving forward positively. 

Organisations can’t do away with internal and interpersonal conflicts, but fostering a harmonious work environment and implementing a fix whenever workplace conflicts arise can arrest the situation and help create a better work environment and overall culture.


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Communicationemployee conflictsorganisational cultureorganisational progressprofessionalismworkload pressuresWorkplaceWorkplace Conflict