What's the best way to deal with workplace conflict?

Photo by 드림포유.

There will always be different personalities at any job. Because I work on a contract basis, I'm always collaborating with new people. I have had many opportunities to see the impact others can bring to assignments. Are they doing things the way I would do them? Not always. But there are so many ways of viewing the world and work, that exposure to other perspectives and personalities can only enrich our projects.

If I do find myself getting frustrated, I give myself a time-out. I take a breath, and when I go back to the project, I'm able to see things much more clearly and continue to contribute effectively to the project.

Dealing with a challenging person in the office is never easy, but there are some helpful approaches that you can use to make your time at work run that much more smoothly.

Here are my top tips for dealing with workplace conflict at any job site.

Use it as an opportunity to improve your communication skills

Conflict can be a chance for both parties to learn more. While it's not ideal to have a disagreement with a work colleague, this could be an opportunity for both of you to learn more and improve your communication skills. Think of this as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Think from the other person's perspective

Try to consider the other person's point of view. What would benefit them? What is in it for them? When you look at the situation through the other person's eyes, you'll be able to understand how to move away from the conflict and highlight what is important to them in the workplace. By doing so, you'll be able to ease the tension and find the path to a resolution.

Decide if the conflict is worth it

At any workplace there are going to be different personalities. Each person will have their own values and personal habits. You'll get along very well with some of your colleagues, and you may find that you have a personality clash with others. Before speaking out, consider that the other person may just be different from you and have a unique outlook. Take a breath and think about whether or not your argument is that important.

Communication is key

Be open about your feelings in a diplomatic and open-minded manner. Communication is key. Many workplace disagreements are based on assumptions and failed communication. You may just need to sit down with the person and talk it out. If this is too difficult, bring in a third person (like a manager) to mediate the discussion.

To learn more tips on dealing effectively with workplace disagreements, I spoke with Alana Savage, a recruitment consultant and team lead at McNeill Nakamoto Recruitment Group. She shared her insider knowledge on the most effective ways to deal with workplace conflict:

No gossiping

Identify the issue and who is involved. Keep the people involved to a minimum and do not involve people unnecessarily.

Think and reflect before dicussing

Take time to think overnight about the conflict and the root of the problem. If emotions are running high, it is good to give people time to cool off before approaching them to discuss, and this will also allow you time to address an issue in a calm and collected manner.

Find some common ground

If it is a situation of clashing personalities or not seeing eye-to-eye, sit down one-on-one with the other person involved in the conflict to find some common ground and then work out the issue from there. A great way to do this is to invite the other person for a coffee and get to know them a bit on the personal side; this can help build a stronger professional working relationship.

Acknowledge others' perspectives

Accept responsibility for your actions and acknowledge others’ perspectives. Try using words such as “I’m sure it wasn’t your intention, but when you said/did ___ , it made me feel like ___” rather than “You did ____ , which caused ____ for me.”

Don't let it affect your professional reputation

Effective working relationships require effort. Don’t let one issue affect your professional reputation. If you feel that the issue is too big to solve on your own, involve a supervisor and ask for help, without blaming the other party.

These are invaluable tips anyone can use to keep harmony in the workplace. Remember to keep the lines of communication open and always ask for help if you need it.

About the author

Sacha DeVoretz is an independent journalist currently based in North Vancouver. Sacha reports and blogs on a broad spectrum of stories both locally and internationally. Her in-depth coverage has been featured in the Vancouver Observer, Canadian Immigrant Magazine and Fox News Latino. She writes a lifestyle blog for the Huffington Post. Visit her daily at SachaD.com

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