Many co-workers reach challenging points in their workplace interactions and don’t know what to do about them. They repeat an endless cycle of getting hurt, hurting back and perpetuating the hurt through their reactions and retaliations. This often happens even in workplaces where both people are smart, kind, intelligent and caring. So what causes this conflict and what can you do about it? Here are some of the main elements that cause workplace conflict and keep it going.
- Neither person understands the other person’s point of view.
- There is not a meeting of the minds on issues.
- Neither side backs down.
- Each side tries to win.
- Neither side has the skills or knowledge to fix the problem.
- The people involved are hurt, angry, frustrated or sad.
The challenge in many organizations is to find a way for people to resolve their differences and improve their interactions. You can start the process by shifting your focus. Start dealing with conflict in a way where nobody wins and both parties collaborate to find a solution that works for both people. Think of some of the following ideas and begin connecting with your co-workers in mutually beneficial ways.
- Both agree to talk.
- Set up an interruption-free time to talk.
- Agree on one thing to talk about.
- Brainstorm possible ideas to fix the problem.
- Agree together on the resolution that works best for both of you.
- Work together to take action on the resolution.
- Move to the next issue.
- If necessary, have a neutral and qualified person mediate.
I also encourage leaders and employees to do away with the word “problem” and look at their workplace challenges as opportunities for movement in a positive direction. Looking at challenging situations in a positive light gives you the opportunity to actually fix things rather than repeating the same patterns.
The next time you are in the middle of a workplace conflict, redirect your thoughts to the possiblity that both of you can work together and purposefully resolve the matter.