Conflict Resolution Strategies at the Workplace

What is conflict resolution? Dynamic collaboration is encouraged daily in the workplace, therefor some degree of conflict is inevitable. No matter what the cause is, the conflict has the potential […]

What is conflict resolution?

Dynamic collaboration is encouraged daily in the workplace, therefor some degree of conflict is inevitable. No matter what the cause is, the conflict has the potential to lead to big problems if it’s not managed effectively. Managed correctly, conflict can stimulate innovation, and ultimately bring people closer together, than separate them.

Conflict is unavoidable, especially when two people with entirely different expectations interact, a situation that happens really often. It is essential for employees, especially those who interact with clients on a daily basis, to learn how to respond properly to a conflictive situation.

A conflict can be defined as a difference in ideas, feelings, motivations, expectations, perceptions, or interests that prevents an agreement between two parties. In the workplace, this often means between clients and front-line employees. If left unsolved, this conflict can lead to a series of negative feelings like frustration, humiliation, or dissatisfaction.

There are several reasons why a conflict may lead to feelings of frustration, humiliation, or dissatisfaction.

Some of the reasons could be the following:

  • The client’s needs or expectations have not been met,
  • Clients received poor communication or service, or
  • Clients have been put on hold for too long

How to identify conflict at workplace?

Conflicts manifest in various ways, depending on the people involved and the specific circumstances. Some signs are obvious and others are more subtle.

If there are no other signs pointing to why your team is experiencing the following issues, a conflict between managers may exist.

Decreased productivity or stalling on projects. If there’s a project that’s behind schedule and has more than one of your managers involved, it may be worth taking a closer look at what’s causing the delays. Projects can be brought to a standstill when the project managers can’t agree on how to move forward or make a decision. So if there’s a deadline that keeps getting pushed back with no other obvious explanation, there’s a chance that your managers are experiencing conflict.

Tense meetings or communication. Emotions can be difficult to hide, especially when communicating about disagreements or issues in a professional setting. Be aware of any tensions during meetings. If you notice recurring patterns or sense that there’s discomfort in the air, take note.

Low employee retention or morale. Finally, if you notice that employees from specific teams are leaving in unusual numbers, requesting project changes, or seem low in morale, that may be a possible sign of managerial conflict. When managers are in disagreement, this can cause confusion and frustration amongst employees – pushing them to find a way out of the situation.

What are the conflict resolution strategies?

Every person responds differently to conflict. While some may feel the need to compete and aggressively control the discussion, others may feel more inclined to cooperate in order to reach an agreement. There are also people who would go out of their way to avoid a conflict, while some may be more open to meet the other halfway.

There are 5 types of behavioural approaches. Each one of these has its own contribution to conflict resolution and has been detailed in our course.
eSafetyFirst’s Conflict Resolution program has been developed in accordance with provincial legislation as safety training for workplaces across Canada. This course consists of 2 modules and tests. Once you pass all the tests, you may print your certificate of completion (wallet & wall-sized). Training may be paused or resumed at any time, is fully narrated, and includes interactive exercises to ensure understanding of course content.

Resolving a conflict

Often, the difference between a happy client and an unsatisfied one is how you handle the conflict that arises during your work together.

Give your clients time to speak their minds, share their problems and explain their frustrations without interrupting them. Adopt a calm mindset and do your best to remain calm no matter what they are saying. Try to show empathy. When the client is done explaining the issue to you, take time to acknowledge their emotions. Repeat key phrases they used in order to show that you listened and understand. If you need to, ask non-judgmental questions to gather more information. It is important to show your clients that you care about their problems. Take a moment to consider their perspective, why they are upset, and how the situation affects them. Once you have a clear understanding of the problem, it’s time to come up with a solution. It is important for you to find common ground, explain the process of what will happen next, and how to recommend a solution to be reached.

It is also important that you remain firm, fair and friendly no matter what. Once a solution is reached, you should stick to it. Don’t let the client push you around if they later decide the solution isn’t good enough. Honesty and clear communication play an important role in the resolution of a conflict. Acquaint yourself with what’s happening, listen to the client, and be open about the problem.

In conclusion, the goal of conflict resolution is not to decide which person is right or wrong, but to reach a solution that satisfies everyone.