We spend nearly one-third of our lives at work. It is, therefore, inevitable that we will run into not one but also several conflicts over 90,000 hours. Employees in American companies spend approximately 2.8 hours each week involved in a conflict, according to workplace conflict statistics by Pollack Peacebuilding. That evidently amounts to a loss of 2.5 weeks of productivity each year. Now, there can be multiple reasons behind workplace conflict. It is common knowledge that today, a majority of people are stressed in their work lives. Hence, organizations must invest heavily in how to handle conflict at work. So, let’s examine the reasons behind this workplace problem and gain insights into how to de-escalate conflict.
What are Some Common Reasons Behind Conflicts in the Workplace?
We need to understand the reasons behind workplace conflicts before we discuss how to handle conflict at work. Here are some common reasons for conflicts in the workplace:
1. Lack of Communication
A lack of communication is a recipe for disaster not only in life but also in the workplace. It generally causes misunderstandings and leads to unclear messages. In other words, they fuel conflicts. So, it is of utmost importance to be transparent in terms of communication when the question of how to handle conflict at work arises.
2. Interpersonal Discord
There are numerous differences in employees’ backgrounds, values, and priorities. A clash can sow seeds of discord between employees, especially when there is a lack of respect. Moreover, they all have different personalities and working styles, leading to conflicts.
3. Organizational Failures
An organization is very influential in determining the well-being of its employees. For example, unclear job roles, poor leadership, lack of recognition and accountability, limited resources, unhealthy competition, excessive workloads, change in management, etc., brew conflict.
4. Discrimination and Harassment
No employee will tolerate harassment or unfair treatment whether it is related to promotions or assignments. Furthermore, discrimination based on factors like gender, race, age, etc., is also problematic. These factors contribute to a toxic work environment and incite conflict.
5. Stress and Burnout
A company looking for tips on how to handle conflict at work must look after its employees. It is because high stress levels and burnout cause irritability among employees, increasing the likelihood of disputes.
How Can Conflicts Negatively Impact Productivity and Employee Morale?
It is important to remember the negative impact of conflict to know how to resolve conflict in the workplace. Let’s take a look:
1. Reduces Productivity
A conflict can take up a lot of time. It can distract employees significantly. It shifts the focus of employees from work-related tasks besides disrupting workflows, quality of work, etc. Moreover, it affects team dynamics by eroding trust among team members.
2. Fosters Toxicity
A lack of conflict resolution can contribute to a hostile work atmosphere, resulting in lower employee morale. So, it’s essential to know how to handle conflict at work in order to maintain harmony in the organization. It ultimately leads to a toxic environment that makes employees feel stressed, undervalued, or unsupported.
3. Increases Absenteeism
A conflict can make employees avoid coming to the office. It can force employees to quit the workplace if left unaddressed. It can, therefore, unsettle the morale at the workplace.
4. Affects Communication
The efficiency of a workplace depends on its communication. A conflict-ridden environment can cause a breakdown in communication. It can compel team members from taking risks or pitching an idea, hindering collaboration.
5. Strains Health and Can Damage Reputations
An employee’s mental health is impacted adversely by continued exposure to workplace conflicts. It can trigger outbursts and anxiety. Additionally, a conflict can damage reputation if it becomes known to clients, customers, or external stakeholders.
What are the Key Components When it Comes to How to Handle Conflict at Work?
There are several benefits for organizations that learn how to manage conflict in a team. The learnings can be used to draft a systematic approach to conflict resolution for the company. Here’s what is needed:
1. Encourage Communication
A company must encourage open and honest communication across the firm as the first step in resolving conflict at work. It has to be complemented with active listening so everyone gets dealt with empathy.
2. Accommodate Perspectives
Everybody in a conflict must try to understand everyone’s perspective regardless of whether they agree with it or not. It is helpful to define the problem as it becomes easy to identify the problem and promote empathy.
3. Establish Common Ground
The next essential step in how to handle conflict at work is to find common ground to promote a collective approach to resolving the conflict. The foundation can help employees move toward a swift resolution. It is also crucial to not assign blame and focus on solutions.
4. Rely on Multiple Options
There is a need to develop multiple solutions during the discussion so everyone can address their concerns. A solution depends on factors like feasibility, satisfaction, and potential outcomes after implementation. The implementation should be swift and evaluated regularly.
5. Formulate Policies
An organization should have a clear policy in place when brainstorming on how to resolve conflict in the workplace. We can resolve conflict in a timely fashion with a policy. The company can also organize seminars to impart skills on conflict resolution as a precautionary measure.
What Techniques Can Be Employed to De-escalate Conflicts in High-Pressure Situations?
Everyone should be familiar with a few techniques to know how to handle conflict at work. They are as follows:
1. Focus on Breathing
It is important to maintain composure to set a positive tone for the interaction. A person always responds to a calm body language. It is also necessary to listen attentively, which is only possible with a still mind.
Empathy is critical for learning how to de-escalate conflict. It helps in acknowledging and validating the emotions of the aggrieved person. Furthermore, you can empathize by using “I” statements frequently to express feelings rather than “you” statements.
3. Set Boundaries
Boundaries are helpful and useful for comprehending how to handle conflict at work. They help to define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors during the conflict resolution process. They can allow for a break consequently if tempers are high.
4. Highlight Issues
Everyone in a conflict should use non-confrontational language to keep the discussion centered on the specific issues at hand rather than making personal attacks. Moreover, there must be multiple options for a resolution of the conflict.
5. Consider Third Parties
A firm can explore the option of a third party as a last step in how to resolve conflict at work examples. A third party is sure to be free from bias and can be significant in finally resolving the conflict.
How Can Individuals Develop Their Conflict-Resolution Skills to Handle Workplace Disputes Quickly?
An individual must know how to handle conflict at work. Let’s look at ways to develop conflict resolution skills:
Try to be more self-aware so we know our communication style, triggers, and emotional responses. It can help identify blind spots. This, in turn, allows us to listen to others with empathy.
Learn how to handle conflict at work through verbal and nonverbal communication. The focus should be on finding solutions to the problem rather than throwing accusations. It will help relay expectations and boundaries effectively.
3. Develop Conflict-Resolution Skills
Every person should consider workshops or training sessions on conflict resolution. Conversely, they can read books, articles, and research papers on the issue. These sources can provide valuable insights into conflicts and their resolution.
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