“Can’t we all just get along?” Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple, and confronting a coworker is a challenge that you will most likely face in your career. Conflict at work is distracting and frustrating, and often the result of a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, or even a clash in personalities. Left unresolved it can make your work life miserable. Here are some tips for effective conflict resolution that will help you keep your cool, keep the peace, and let you get back to being productive.
Don’t wait to have that difficult conversation. The longer you wait and think about the problem without acting, the more toxic it becomes. The exact right time rarely appears. Gathering the courage and acting sooner, rather than later, will help to avoid resentment and future problems.
Choose the right setting
It’s always best to confront someone in private, where you won’t be interrupted, and they won’t be embarrassed. Confrontation doesn’t have to be painful, but it can be awkward. Doing it privately will allow your coworker to feel safe and make them more open to hearing what you’re saying. After all, you are trying to solve the problem, not make them feel badly.
Don’t text or email
The potential for misunderstandings is too great with text or email. Pick up the phone or talk with them face-to-face for this conversation. This will give you the best chance at being understood, and understanding the other persons point of view.
People-pleasing and conflict avoidance often lead to more confusion and can make matters worse. Even though it can be difficult, confrontation may be necessary to solve the problem. Biting your tongue or skirting the issue in fear of not being polite or not being liked is not fair to you or the other person and doesn’t allow for any growth or positive change. Work to keep your words truthful, kind, and respectful. When you begin the conversation with honesty and authenticity, you have a much better chance of a peaceful and permanent resolution.
Keep a calm, even voice, and use non-aggressive language even if the other person gets heated. You’re not responsible for anyone’s behavior but your own. Remaining professional if the conversation becomes heated will help you avoid escalating the problem and having to do damage control later.
Don’t expect them to agree
Of course, you want to come to an agreement with the other person but that’s not always possible. Even if you can’t come to a resolution, people will still value your honesty and willingness to hear them out, and you can feel good about expressing your thoughts in a professional manner.
Actively listening without thinking of your response will show your coworker that their opinion matters. When people feel heard they also feel like you value what they have to say, even if you don’t agree with it. Conflict occurs when neither side is listening. By showing someone that you respect what they have to say, you can diffuse a conversation that is headed in a negative direction.
Enter the situation with an open mind and prepare yourself for new information that might make you reconsider your point of view. It’s ok to admit when you are wrong or that you made a mistake. That’s how we learn and build trust with others.
If you get the feeling that your coworker would be receptive, ask them how they view the situation and if they have any ideas on how to solve the issue. Including them on finding a solution will help them feel valued, heard, and less defensive.
Keep your focus on a positive outcome
The ideal goal of resolving a conflict is for both of you to feel that you’ve taken a step forward. Let your coworker know up front that you want to come to a resolution so that they are clear on your intentions. Keeping the focus on a positive outcome can create a two-way discussion that is inspiring, respectful, and productive for both parties.
We at DW Simpson hope this article was helpful to you! DW Simpson can help you in your Actuarial career search. Find us at DWSimpson.com.