Defusing Conflicts At Work: Understanding And Dealing With It.

Conflicts are never easy to handle, but what is even more difficult is how to defuse conflicts in the workplace. A simple misunderstanding between two people usually sparks these conflicts, or sometimes conflicts arise because employees like to gossip about their colleagues. While it is human nature to engage in chatter, it may lead to a bigger conflict among colleagues. Here are the top seven ways to defuse conflicts at work.

Understand yourself to defuse conflicts

To defuse a conflict requires knowing yourself. What are your triggers? What do you need to say, hear, and do? How do you handle things when someone is upset with you?

If tempers are flaring, it is crucial to stay calm to keep the conversation going more logically and lessen the pressure on both sides.

If either or both parties feel like they are being accused of something, allow them to explain themselves before starting an argument.

If you are not heard or appropriately understood, calmly ask for clarification to access the root of the misunderstanding and work things out.

Identify the conflict situation

Understanding the cause of the problem and who is involved is the first step to defusing conflicts. Try to determine your personal bias to be impartial to each side; this way, you will not have a preference for one party over another and will be able to assist them both in an unbiased manner. It would also help to prepare some questions before meeting with the parties involved in the conflict. You could ask:

What was the situation?

How to defuse the situation?

When did it happen?

Who else was present?

How did they react?

Ask questions to understand the conflict

Ask questions to get more information to defuse conflicts. The goal of the questions is to understand the ways to defuse the situation and/or to identify an opportunity to improve the system and help the person/s involved in it.

When you ask questions, refrain from making any assumptions about why someone reacted in a certain manner. And do not blame them for not being able to handle something that was difficult for them. Asking open-ended questions would get more information and reveal what was behind their reaction. No matter what, do not demand answers or use accusatory language (e.g., “Why did you argue in front of your client?”); instead, be direct yet non-confrontational (e.g., “Tell me what happened this morning.”). The better you understand where someone is coming from, the easier it will be for you to find workable solutions for everyone involved to defuse the conflict.

Understanding and empathy

When we have a solid need to be correct, we tend to focus on the content of the message rather than its intent. And typically, if we focus too much on content, our ego takes over. On your side of the conversation, it is essential to remember that you are not competing with anyone; no one is keeping score.

You can defuse conflicts by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. The person in front of you may appear unreasonable or hostile in their approach toward you. However, this behavior may not be directed at you specifically—and it may not even be coming from an ill-intentioned place. Finding the motivation behind this type of behavior can help ease tensions. They are likely responding to defuse a situation they deem unfair and want your feedback on how to resolve it (or feel like they deserve more recognition for their work). Everyone deserves to have their feelings heard and acknowledged by others (even if only for empathy), so make sure you listen to them first before diving into what you have to say about whatever issue has been brought up between them.

Shared goals

In a conflict-free workplace, all colleagues share the same mindset. They work within the same system and work toward the same goal. You need to understand this because everyone has the same responsibilities and rights and is subject to the same accountability.

You may feel that you have specific responsibilities regarding a particular client account at your office. Your coworker may feel differently about those responsibilities: he thinks it should be his job to handle. The two of you disagree on what jobs belong to whom—and thus, a conflict arises!

But if you think about it from an employee’s perspective (rather than focusing simply on your work), these differences are quickly settled. Since everyone in your office works together to provide a service for this shared client, it would make sense for everyone to take responsibility for this client’s account.

Be patient, assertive, and flexible

Don’t get emotional. Being patient, assertive, and flexible will help defuse conflicts from escalating.

Remain open-minded to the other person’s point of view.

Ask the other person how you can better communicate with them in the future to avoid or defuse conflicts.

Being productive at work requires getting along with your coworkers. Remember these tips when conflicts arise so that you can successfully defuse conflicts; you will be happier and more successful.

Conflict is an opportunity

When we face challenges, it’s only natural to wonder what went wrong. We would not learn many things if we failed to address the issue or discuss it. In its place, treat conflicts as a chance to investigate the system: Were there unclear rules? Was there something about the setup of the situation that created unnecessary tension? Did some people feel they had more responsibility than others? Could better systems have prevented this?

If you could ask yourself these questions and work with your team to identify answers (even if they’re not simple ones), you’ll be much more likely to prevent future conflicts—and even benefit from them in unexpected ways. The next time you get into conflict at work—whether with a coworker, manager, or client—don’t immediately assume someone did something wrong. Instead, challenge yourself by asking the following questions:

What can I learn from this experience?

How will I be better prepared for my subsequent encounter?

In summation, whether the conflict is more severe or minor, the path to defuse confrontations start with finding an effective way to communicate. And if you have a knack for defusing conflicts, you have an added advantage at work. These tips aren’t difficult; they are merely about working through issues at a job without letting them escalate into arguments or lack of productivity. You will be more in control of your surroundings, and you will find that you enjoy working more when there are fewer to no conflicts.

Also Read: 6 Strategies To Deal With A Difficult Co-worker