How to Confront Conflict in the Workplace

 
 
By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 11-16-2015 Email
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    How to Confront Conflict in the Workplace
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    How to Confront Conflict in the Workplace

    CIOs and other managers too often focus on the personalities involved with a dispute instead of root causes, research shows.
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: Conflict Is Always Something to Avoid
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: Conflict Is Always Something to Avoid

    When problems are dismissed or ignored, they fester and grow into bigger problems.
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: Finding the Culprit Should Be Fairly Obvious
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: Finding the Culprit Should Be Fairly Obvious

    Only if you make assumptions—which could make a bad situation worse. Proceed to resolve heated disputes in a fair, impartial manner.
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: Difficult People Are Always the Cause
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: Difficult People Are Always the Cause

    Bad behavior certainly contributes to the situation. But it's usually an outcome of the cause—which is often rooted in bad communications, unclear goals, etc.
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: There's Got to Be a ‘Winner’ and a ‘Loser’
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: There's Got to Be a ‘Winner’ and a ‘Loser’

    This follows the theory of "position-based bargaining." But such thinking detracts attention from the real problem and delays the implementation of a solution.
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: The Manager Is Responsible for Intervening and Providing a Fix
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    Workplace Conflict Myths: The Manager Is Responsible for Intervening and Providing a Fix

    As a CIO, it's your job to develop employees to the point where they can respond to—and resolve—conflict.
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Chill Out
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Chill Out

    If you get agitated in confronting conflict, everyone else will get agitated. If you're at ease, you'll defuse tension and start a constructive dialogue.
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Use Open-Ended Empathy Statements
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Use Open-Ended Empathy Statements

    Involved parties are more likely to engage if you inquire using phrases such as "I'd like to know how you feel about …" or "Would you be kind enough to provide to me examples of how …"
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Stick to Facts
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Stick to Facts

    Encourage involved employees to avoid emotionally charged accusations and focus on factually driven essentials that drive to the root cause.
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Emerge as a Standout Articulator
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Emerge as a Standout Articulator

    When you specify policies and expectations in a clear manner—both verbally and in writing—you pre-emptively eliminate many causes of conflict.
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Embrace Good Conflict
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    Workplace Conflict Best Practices: Embrace Good Conflict

    Not all conflict is destructive. In a highly collaborative environment, debate inspires innovation. So encourage team members to challenge each other while maintaining professional decorum.
 

It's difficult to manage a conflict-free office: Strained relationships among employees account for no less than three out of five difficulties within organizations, research shows. Meanwhile, 43% of non-management workers feel that their bosses do not deal with conflict as well as they should. In covering this topic, the recent book, The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager, Team Leader, HR Professional, or Anyone Who Wants to Resolve Disputes and Increase Productivity (Career Press/available now), defines the common sources of morale-sapping acrimony while providing best practices in addressing these disputes. Authors Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem reveal that CIOs and other managers too often focus on the personalities involved with a situation instead of root causes. They also must understand that their personal approach in dealing with an issue weighs greatly in "making it go away"—or creating even larger problems. The following "conflict myths" and best practices are adapted from the book. Mitchell and Gamlem are HR consultants and co-authors of The Big Book of HR.

 
 
 
 
 
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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