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What to do when you have to resolve conflicts at work…

The truth is you can never see eye to eye with everyone you work with – be it a co-worker, supplier, customer or even the boss. That is because conflict is inevitable. If you spend enough time interacting with people, eventually your ideas, attitudes and needs are bound to be contrary to the other person resulting in differences of opinion and disagreements.

Conflicts by themselves are not the problem. The way you handle these disagrements have a powerful impact on how you are perceived as an employee. You can never win an argument at work. Winning ie., getting the outcome you want regardless of the other person never helps – as the underlying issue hasn’t been resloved. It will appear again later over some other topic. Here are some ways which will help you resolve conflicts:

Realising conflicts are inevitable at work: Whenever people are engaged and committed, disagreements are bound to happen. They can be a learning process for you – the best workplaces are not the ones without conflicts, but are the ones where people handle conflicts effectively and efficiently. Once a conflict happens, try to resolve it as soon as possible. It‘s tempting to wait and let it cool by itself, however it only gets worse over time

Don’t start by being defensive, remember, you could be wrong. Whenever you realise that a conflict has occurred, take initiative and invite the other person to talk about the situation. Always be respectful, yet be assertive and polite in how you communicate. Address conflict with desire to improve a situation and not a reason to complain

When you address a conflict, don‘t just lay out the problem and your frustration associated with it – you need to have a solution orientation. As they say – never go to the Boss without the solution! Show willingness to negotiate: the other person will see your part of the bargain and will more likely talk about his concerns too. Also don’t overgeneralise – avoid starting sentences with You always.. or You never… Remember to listen – some people interrupt and rehearse what they need to say instead of truly listening what the other person is talking about

Refrain from gossiping about your issues with co-workers; even if you need to speak to your co- worker in office, make sure that it is in strict confidence.

There are standard conflict resolution practices that employees need to adhere to as part of the HR policies in an organisation. If a resolution doesn’t seem possible, you can speak with your HR person about different working arrangements, workstation/cubicle movement or being assigned on an alternate project. Whatever you do, be professional – explain your position and seek meditation if that helps.

Conventional wisdom says that good communication can improve relationships, trust and support. Try to follow these steps mentioned above and you will be on the path to working effectively!

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