Tips for Dealing with Workplace Conflict

conflict

Imagine that you have just missed a project deadline at your workplace because your co-worker didn’t finish his or her portion on time?  If you were put in this situation what would you do? What would you say to your co-worker?

Not knowing how to handle discord as it occurs in the workplace can lead to frustration. Here are some tips to help you address conflict head on.

1. Know your conflict style 

Many people try to avoid conflict because it scares them. How many times have you witnessed a professional self-destruct because he or she wouldn’t engage out of fear of conflict? The most effective way to deal with conflict, is by knowing how to properly approach a conflict situation. Instead of letting an issue manifest, you should use a conflict style that best fits you to solve the problem. Here are the five conflict styles that everyone should know: compromising, accommodating, collaborating, competing, and avoiding. For those that do not know which style best fits or describes you, here is a link to where you can take an online style assessment http://www.buildingpeace.org/act-build-peace/learn/conflict-styles

2.  Know styles may vary form one situation to the next 

Each conflict style has it’s own advantages and limitations. No conflict style is more right or wrong than the other. Each style should be used at a specific place and time. Being aware of your own conflict style, is the first step for improving how you view and deal with conflict. Knowing how to identify others’ conflict styles could be very beneficial for you and your workplace. If you can observe how a person conducts themselves during discord and identify his or her style, you can better reach a mutually agreeable outcome for all parties involved in a conflict situation.

3.  Use I-Statements

When approaching conflict in terms of reaching a resolution, the use of an I-Statement can help create a less defensive response from the person whom you are in conflict with. I-Statements consist of stating how you feel, a description of the individuals behavior, and an explanation to why their behavior lead you to feel this way. When stating your emotion or feeling, it must be expressed by saying, “I feel,” followed by the emotion. An example would be, “I feel angry.”

After acknowledging your emotion, include the person’s observable behavior related to your feelings. When stating their behavior steer away from making assumptions, judgments, criticisms, and threats. A behavioral statement includes, “when you procrastinate at work instead of planning ahead on our group task.”

Immediately followed by your behavioral statement, the conditions in which lead you to feel the emotion you felt should be stated. Be careful, you do not want to repeat your feeling here. An explanation statement includes, “because then I have to pick up your slack to get the work done on time.”

The example of an I-Statement put all together

I feel angry (feelings) when you procrastinate at work instead of planning ahead on our group task (behavior) because then I have to pick up your slack to get the work done on time (why).

Benefits of I-Statements

If used in the work place by professionals, I-Statements creates a less hostile way to express a feeling of emotion you’re experiencing. I-Statements are also a more appropriate way to inform an individual about their behavior that caused the issue. These statements avoid blaming others for how you feel and minimize making the person you are in conflict with feel resentment, guilty, or put down.

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