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workplace conflict

Workplace Conflict: How Can You Approach It?

In a conflict, being willing to change allows you to move from a point of view to a viewing point - a higher, more expansive place, from which you can see both sides. - Thomas Crum

Managers have a very difficult task of keeping employees happy. Mostly, managers put in a lot of effort to make sure that the vibe in the office stays balanced. But, sometimes, they have to manage conflict that arises at the office. How should a manager approach workplace conflict to have it resolved in the least destructive way?


Ask before you accuse

Even if you, as a manager, are truly convinced that a certain staff member is in the wrong, you might still not have the full picture. Rather than just going in guns blazing, ask the staff member to tell their side of the story. Also, try to ask a neutral question; instead of “Why did you do this?”, rather ask “Did you do this?”. Because even if you think asking about certain behaviour is better than outright attacking them, you still need to hear from them directly that they are, in fact, guilty before asking them why.


Nobody causes trouble on purpose

Mostly, they might not even be aware that they did something wrong. (Unless, of course, they are a sociopath, in which case you have a problem.) People are very different, and accusing them of bad behaviour won’t be useful if they aren’t aware that something is wrong. Some people do have unhealthy ways of dealing with negative emotions or situations, but not because they are downright bad people – it might be that they just never learned that their behaviour is destructive. Chances are that if you gently tell them that they were wrong, they will change their behaviour immediately.


Sometimes they were just in the wrong place

Some people have the gift of getting stuck in the middle of bad situations, simply because they listened to someone else’s problems. You might interpret a situation a certain way if you only heard one side of the story. Remember, there are always three sides to a story – and the truth is the third side. Rather have a discussion with everyone involved before you draw conclusions, especially about the staff member you perceive to be the problem. Everybody experiences situations differently and the truth can be found somewhere in the middle.


Keep your side clean

There are many different management styles and approaches to managing employees. As a manager. being transparent and making sure you lead by example is the best way to approach problem employees.

Having conflict with one of your colleagues? Read our next article with some advice on how you can handle conflict effectively.