How to Deal with Conflicts at Work

How to Deal with Conflicts at Work

The thing one should realize when it comes to conflicts at work is that if you don’t have any - you are either hiding from them or not working properly at all.

Listen to this podcast to learn how to deal with conflict situations at work. 


Written and voiced by Vera Sokolova

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Dealing with Conflicts at Work

The thing one should realize when it comes to conflicts at work is that if you don't have any - you are either hiding from them or not working properly at all. Of course, you can try to avoid those conflicts, but you won't be able to escape from them. There are three key components of successful conflict management. They are the ability to recognize conflict, understand its nature, and to be able to bring swift resolution to it.

So, what creates conflict at work? Different opinions, power struggles, ego, pride, jealousy, compensation issues, just someone having a bad day, etc. While the answer to the previous question would appear to lead to the conclusion that just about anything and everything creates conflict, the reality is that the root of most conflict is born out of either poor communication or the inability to control one's emotions. Let's have a closer look at these major causes of conflict.

If you recall the conflicts you have encountered over the years, you'll quickly recognize many of them resulted from a lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation. Clear, concise, and timely communication will help to lessen both the number and severity of conflicts.

Another common mistake made in workplace communication which leads to conflict is letting emotions govern your decisions. Taking a few minutes to reflect on whether you are about to make a rational or an emotional decision will help to avoid creating conflict.

Baring the above in mind, here are a few tips to help you deal with or even prevent a conflict in the first place.

1. Define acceptable behavior:
Having properly defined job descriptions and a well articulated chain of command will also help avoid conflict. Clearly and publicly announce what will and won't be tolerated at work.

2. Hit conflict before it comes:
While you can't always prevent conflicts, the secret to conflict resolution is in fact conflict prevention where possible. By actually checking areas of potential conflict and intervening you will prevent certain conflicts from ever happening. If a conflict does happen, you will likely minimize its severity by dealing with it quickly. Time spent identifying and understanding the areas of tension will help to avoid unnecessary conflict.

3. Understanding the WIIFM factor:
Understanding the other people's WIIFM (What's In It For Me) position is critical. It is absolutely essential to understand other's motivations before acting. The way to avoid conflict is to help those around you achieve their objectives. If you approach the conflict from the perspective of taking the action that will help others best achieve their goals you will find it very easy to resolve any conflict.

Now it should be obvious to you that you can deal with any conflict if you have a sincere desire to do so. Turning the other cheek, compromise, forgiveness, finding common ground, being an active listener and numerous other approaches will always allow you to be successful in resolving whatever tensions you may have at work. So, next time, before starting the shouting and blaming, go through the given tips in your head, they are sure to help.


swift – quick, fast
struggles – fights
born out of – caused or created by
have a closer look at – pay our attention to, focus more on the details
have encountered – have come across, have seen
concise – expressed using only a few words, but in a way that is easy to understand
timely – on time
lessen – make smaller
severity – the seriousness of something bad or unpleasant
reflect on – think about, evaluate
well articulated – said in a way that is easy to understand
intervening – becoming involved in a situation in order to try to stop or change it
tension – the feeling of being so nervous or worried that you cannot relax
essential – very important, vital
acting – doing
sincere – true and honest
turning the other cheek – not hurting someone who has hurt you
finding common ground – finding interests or opinions that unite a group
numerous – consisting of or having many parts