How to Handle Workplace Conflict

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. When you bring together a group of different personalities who spend a lot of time together, there is bound to be some disagreements. But you should never fear conflict. It is completely normal and can even be good in some situations. It’s how you handle it that will determine how you get along with coworkers in the future. 

Deal With it Right Away

The worst thing you can do is ignore conflict when it comes up. Tension builds up over time and can make things even worse. Resentment can become ingrained in your day-to-day work life and something that was small can take on a life of its own. Ignoring it isn’t good for your career or the entire workplace. 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

To understand what someone is going through it is best to try to see it from their perspective. Try to look at what is motivating this conflict from the other worker’s point of view. Resentment and bitterness only cause stress in the workplace. Instead, consider that the conflict actually may be your fault and don’t be afraid to apologize.

Actually Listen

Set up a time to sit down and talk with the person face-to-face where you won’t be interrupted and you can give each other your full attention. When you are talking make sure you are really listening to the other person and if you don’t understand something ask clarifying questions. Resolving conflict is all about understanding and if you really listen, you can reach an understanding. 

View It as An Opportunity to Learn

Conflict can be a great learning opportunity for both parties involved, so try to look at it that way. It can help you grow and develop as an employee and it can even stimulate creativity amongst you and your coworkers. Focus on the lesson you learn from it and be positive about the situation.

Find an Agreement

Find common ground between you and the person you’re having conflict with and come to an agreement. Also remember that sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war. You may need to let this conflict go in order to reach cohesion in the office. Once you have come to a resolution, let it go. Rehashing the conflict only makes you look bad and causes stress in the workplace. 

Outside Support

When you are represented by a union you have an extra form of support for dealing with conflict in the workplace. Your Shop Steward represents your union within the workplace and is someone you can always turn to if you are experiencing conflict. You can also reach out to a Business Agent for help.  

If things become more serious and you cannot solve the issue internally you can contact Occupational Health and Safety. The contact centre is open 24 hours a day and can be reached toll-free at 1- 866-415-8690 (Alberta) or at 780-415-8690 (Edmonton).  

The Distress Line is a great resource to call if you are feeling overwhelmed and need someone to talk to. You can contact them at 403.266.HELP (4357) in Calgary, 780-482-HELP (4357) in Edmonton and 1-800-232-7288 in rural areas.


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