A workplace is ultimately a collection of human beings, each with their own thoughts, values, and point of view. Though it’s important to remain as professional as possible, conflict is inevitable. Making an action plan to address it when it occurs can help you remain focused on your work and keep you from saying or doing something you will regret. Here are some tips.
Many people are conflict avoidant, which means they will do their best to ignore it. Over time, though, unresolved conflict can fester and grow. Instead, lean into the conflict as an opportunity.
Set a meeting with the person with whom you’re in conflict. Minimize outside disturbances and plan for enough time that each person can speak his or her mind. Focus on the issue, avoiding personal attacks. Practice active listening, including repeating back the main points and asking for clarification where needed.
Find Common Ground
No matter how different two people are in personality, background, or even values, there are always points of commonality. Search for those areas in which you agree and use them as building blocks to create a bridge of better understanding.
Once you have both had your say, bring the conversation back to the points that matter most. Remember, you and your coworker don’t need to become friends. You just need to find a way to work together and resolve any disagreements that are affecting your work. Focus on those issues and agree to let everything else go.
Make a Plan
For each point of relevant conflict, work together to create a plan to solve it. Depending on the issue, this could be as simple as agreeing not to talk to each other about your personal lives, or as complex as taking turns making key decisions about a shared project.
Agree to hold each other accountable for following through on the plan you made. If your conflict is severe, consider asking a third party, such as a supervisor or trusted coworker, to hold you both to the plan.
Conflict at work is inevitable, and it can cause real damage over time. By leaning into the conflict and working together to resolve it, you can avoid wasting valuable energy and get back to focusing on your job.
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