9 Tips for Managing Workplace Conflict

A business risks a lot by allowing poor conflict resolution habits in the workplace. There are often extreme consequences to productivity and quality when workers are not able to communicate or cooperate due to unresolved conflicts. Customer satisfaction ultimately can suffer and profitability may be jeopardized. Fortunately, there is a lot of helpful information about typical causes and solutions to workplace conflict.

Preventing Workplace Conflict

No workplace is without conflict, including a pavement sweeping business. Wherever there is more than one person doing anything in one place, expect occasional conflict. The most you can hope for is to manage it, not prevent it. Therefore, it’s best to recognize that well-managed conflict can actually strengthen workplace relationships. It can lead to fresh approaches and improved methods. So, when conflict inevitably occurs, practice the resolution methods suggested below, which have been developed by HR experts to achieve the best results.

Causes of Conflict in Workplaces

Many conflicts between co-workers are due to simple causes that may or may not be simple enough to manage:

Differing opinions
Lacking information
Common jealousy
Emotions over objectivity
Dominant traits
Particular sensitivities
Territorial tendencies Shifting blame
Self-serving motivations
Unchecked Pride
Occasional bad moods

The company should maintain a policy of requiring all workers to treat each other with respect and dignity and mutual support in all interactions. Cultivating a culture of collaborative problem-solving helps further encourage mutually satisfactory solutions.

When Workplace Conflicts are Not Resolved:

Resentments fester.
The environment becomes toxic.
Relationships are damaged.
Collaborative culture breaks down.
Routine communications are strained.
Cooperation becomes difficult.
Creativity is weakened.
Efficiency is worse.
Productivity suffers.
Quality is badly impacted.

When Workplace Conflicts are Managed Successfully:

Creative problem-solving flourishes.
People display empathy toward each other.
Staff demonstrates emotional intelligence.
People practice active listening.
Workers use strategies for resolving conflict.
A work culture of mutual respect develops.
Collaborative problem-solving flourishes.
Efficiency can be maximized.
Productivity increases.
Quality is prioritized.

Where conflict management is poor, workers are less engaged. Customer satisfaction rates sink. The most talented employees quit and seek a more stable and secure work environment. So, attrition rates rise. Ultimately, the reputation and profitability of the company are at risk. But where management of conflict is effective, a winning culture is fostered and a business can thrive.

Resolving Workplace Conflicts

Here are some methods to use for helping resolve workplace conflicts in ways that serve the best interests of the parties to the conflict and your company:

Handle the Conflict Straightforwardly.

Consider what is likely to result if the conflict is simply left unresolved. Guide the parties to communicate in a collaborative effort to find a creative mutually helpful solution.

Recognize Facts and Opinions.

Write down the specific issues as they’re stated by the parties. Ask narrow questions until you have captured all the relevant details, and then lead a discussion of the individual points.

Maintain Your Neutrality.

Focus on the issues and reframe the parties’ complaints about working with each other as declarations about the particular problem(s) that are occurring. Try to find common ground.

View the Conflict as an Improvement Opportunity.

Creative problem-solving is necessary in conflict resolution. It presents real opportunities for team members to collaborate and identify better ways that can benefit the entire company.

Firmly Express Your Expectations of Employee Behavior.

Clearly explain the requirements for workplace conduct between team members. Reinforce the essential expectations as needed to minimize the risk of occurrences of heated conflict.

Keep an Open Mind and Be Flexible.

Be objective in considering the conflicting positions. Consider the alternative ideas being offered. Provide an opportunity for open dialogue. Make sure everyone’s points are heard.

Model Professionalism and Patience.

Set an example of professional conduct in the resolution meeting. Manage vocal volume. Choose words carefully to avoid seeming combative or condescending. Maintain patience.

Use Formal Methods of Conflict Management.

Make sure everyone is fully heard. Recognize body language and projection. Use methods for stage setting, deescalation, and other conflict management techniques.

Strive for Win-Win Solutions.

Keep in mind their individual motivations. Seek an outcome that allows both parties as much of what they both need and reasonably want in the issue as possible.

Difficulties in Resolving Conflict

There are some problems in interpersonal communications that frequently trigger people to react defensively and resist cooperating. For example:

• Weak interpersonal skills
• Fear of conflict
• Poor communications
• Rigid attitude
• Lacking sufficient empathy
• Impatience
• Over-sensitivity to disagreement

Keep in mind that the human body processes the occurrence of conflict as a physical threat. Stress hormones are released, and reasoning can be overpowered by emotions. Those internal operations can distort interpretations of what is being said during a conflict.

Building a Collaborative Problem-Solving Culture

Cultivating a workplace culture of mutually supportive communications and collaborative problem-solving sets up the staff and leadership for the successful resolution of typical conflicts. Issues are likely to be resolved with greater professionalism in such working environments. Mutual satisfaction in outcomes of conflict resolution efforts is naturally more likely where there is a firm policy of supporting each other as team members working for a common goal.


Focus on options for compromise and prioritize mutual understanding of individuals’ positions in a conflict. But, when you don’t find a way to bring people to a mutually satisfactory resolution, you can end the conflict by making a leadership decision and announcing the conclusion to the parties. Explain to help the parties understand your reasoning, and require all involved to move past it. Prepare to address the issue with firmer measures if it persists.

If you lead your team through incidents of conflict by following the recommendations above, you can expect, at minimum, some consistently excellent results in these important instances: The outcomes of conflict among your team members will be objectively considered, fair, and will be the best solutions you could identify for the parties and your company as a whole.