How to react effectively to a conflict at work?

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How to react effectively to a conflict at work?

In the professional world, it often happens that a difference of opinion, a disagreement, or a tension emerges, giving rise to a conflict at work to which one must know how to react.

These conflicts between colleagues have the potential to disrupt team dynamics, with negative consequences for productivity, quality of work, and even employees’ mental health.

How the manager reacts to these professional conflicts is crucial. Inadequate management can make the situation worse, while a constructive approach can turn conflict into an opportunity for improvement and growth.

In this context, this article presents some tips on how to respond effectively to a conflict at work.

Understand the nature of the conflict at work so you know how to respond to resolve it

Before asking how to react to a conflict at work or how to handle a conflict at work, it is essential to understand that there are various types of conflicts, each with specific origins.

Understanding this diversity of conflicts is crucial, as how they are addressed and resolved can vary depending on their nature. Here are some types of workplace conflicts and their rationale for being.

Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest in the workplace arise when a situation arises where two employees simultaneously aspire to the same opportunity, whether it is a promotion, a particular assignment or a coveted position.

In such circumstances, a rivalry sets in, and these colleagues can gradually become adversaries.

They can then undertake various actions aimed at destabilizing or even harming the other party, in order to ensure a more favorable position in the competition for this professional advantage.

This situation reveals the importance of employee satisfaction surveys in companies.

It therefore becomes crucial to find out how to react to such a conflict situation at work before it escapes the control of the manager. This must be done by adopting peaceful techniques that can help avoid more serious conflicts between co-workers.

Interpersonal conflicts

At the heart of every relationship is an implicit social contract that underpins its nature and dynamics. This unformulated contract plays a vital role in how individuals interact with each other.

However, it may happen that the two parties involved are not in complete agreement as to the nature of this relationship.

Such disagreement can take various forms, for example, one of the individuals may perceive this relationship as a simple collaboration between colleagues, while the other may conceive of it as a relationship of authority, involving a hierarchical superior and their subordinate.

This divergence in perception can lead to misunderstandings, unmet expectations, or worse if the manager does not know how to react promptly to the emerging situation of conflict at work. That said, they must master the essential tools to federate a team.

Value conflicts

Value conflicts in the workplace are related to the discrepancies that can manifest themselves in the way individuals perceive and adhere to the company’s core values.

It can also happen on a personal level, where two employees may have divergent perspectives on a variety of topics. This dissension can develop into a conflict within the team.

Take action within a reasonable time

The time factor has a big impact on how to react to a conflict at work. In professional conflict management, it is imperative that the manager does not wait for a situation to deteriorate, as this could endanger the productivity of the entire team.

Good conflict management in HR means that as soon as a problem is identified by the manager. The latter must take action as soon as possible. This does not mean that they must systematically confront the parties concerned.

Depending on the circumstances, they may let a few tens of minutes or a few hours pass before initiating a dialogue. This delay could allow overheated minds to calm down in the meantime, thus facilitating the process of resolving the conflict.

However, the manager must be careful not to ignore the situation for too long. They must ask themselves questions such as:

  • What is the nature of this conflict and what is at its core?
  • When is the right time to confront the problem?
  • What approach should be taken for a prompt and effective resolution?

By asking such questions about how to respond effectively to conflict at work, the manager will be able to take steps to resolve it at the source, before it grows.

This proactive approach contributes to a healthier and more productive work environment. In such an environment, employees are more willing to leave positive reviews about the company on a trusted employee review platform.

It should be remembered that these opinions considerably improve the image of the company with its customers and potential future candidates.

Initiate a dialogue

When a conflict breaks out within the team, the manager’s main concern should be to find out how to react to this conflict at work through communication with their team members.

A first step would be to organize individual interviews where each employee can express themselves freely about the conflict situation in which they are involved.

During the interview, it is important to solicit detailed information about the initial problem to try to understand the emotions and points of view of the employees vis-à-vis the work conflict.

Indeed, their perception of the situation is an important key to determining the best resolution strategy.

After conducting these individual interviews, the next step in handling workplace conflict is to organize a group meeting where the conflicting parties are present.

The main goal here is to re-establish direct communication between them, encouraging them to express themselves openly and honestly.

As a manager, your role is to figure out how to respond to this conflict situation at work in a way that maintains an open dialogue while preventing it from escalating into hostility. This group meeting will be the starting point for the effective management of the conflict at work.

You have everything to gain by opting for a posture of dialogue in the management of conflicts between employees because it allows you to develop your employer brand through communication.

Adopt a professional attitude

In managing conflict at work, it is essential to maintain an emotionless approach and to ensure that interlocutors do not get caught up in personal attacks.

Knowing how to react to a conflict situation at work as a manager involves knowing how to be impartial. Indeed, impartiality is crucial to effectively resolve a conflict. You must demonstrate your ability to remain neutral, ensuring that both parties feel understood.

In addition, during discussions, the manager must adopt exemplary behavior to manage the conflict productively.

For example, when faced with an angry employee, it is imperative not to give in to the temptation to raise your voice. Stay calm, explain why anger doesn’t lead to anything constructive, and steer the conversation toward solutions.

Proposing compromises

When a manager approaches the resolution of a conflict in business, they must put forward proposals that incorporate compromises.

The manager’s role is not to take sides and determine who holds the truth. As a rule, both parties to the conflict share some responsibility. It is therefore essential to demand concessions from both sides.

If one of the employees is the only one to make concessions, they may feel unfairly treated by their superiors, thus creating the basis for a new conflict at work.

The compromises you submit must be clear, precise, and balanced, requiring a similar effort on both sides to foster successful cooperation.

One of the most productive techniques on how to react to a conflict at work is to offer compromises that allow both employees to perceive a gain.

Mistakes to avoid

On the question of how to react to a conflict at work, it is crucial to identify and avoid some common mistakes that can make the situation worse and make resolution more difficult. Here are some of the mistakes to avoid:

  • React emotionally: Losing your temper or reacting emotionally as a manager can make things worse. The emotional reaction can polarize the parties and hinder open communication;
  • Taking sides: Taking sides in a conflict by taking a stand for one of the parties can compromise your neutrality and authority as a mediator;
  • Postpone resolution: Delaying conflict resolution indefinitely can lead to deteriorating relationships, decreased productivity, and possibly loss of talent;
  • Neglecting internal communication in the workplace and the employer brand: a winning duo that has always proven itself as much for conflict management at work as for the reputation of the company;
  • Use confrontational tactics: Avoid using aggressive confrontational tactics, as this can make parties defensive and compromise cooperation.

By avoiding these mistakes and taking a thoughtful approach to how to respond to workplace conflict, you can help effectively resolve workplace conflict and foster a more harmonious and productive work environment.

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