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There will be times in the workplace where staff do not see eye to eye – that’s life and that’s people! Ideally two people should be able to sort out their differences and get on with the task in hand. Unfortunately often the reality is a People Manager will be required to resolve the situation and ensure there is no detrimental impact on the rest of the team or the work.
Conflicts potentially can arise for a number of reasons; Differences of opinion, different values or just different perspectives. Notably, the People Manager needs to be able to try and defuse the situation. Part of this may involve letting both parties have their say, but in a controlled and calm manner. Try to establish the facts. Use non-confrontational neutral language. Try de-escalating an argumentative situation using a quieter calmer voice. Have empathy with those involved, taking into account their feelings and viewpoint.
Consider letting each side explain the issues and acknowledge their differing viewpoints. Avoid blame. Try to separate the person from the point of view. Attempt to look at the issues objectively. Acknowledge any differences of opinion. Consider accommodating the viewpoints of others, as part of a constructive compromise. When the different parties are back to talking rationally and listening, use the momentum from this progress to start exploring options to take the situation forward. Listening is immensely important throughout the process.
Conflict Management for Engineers: Moving Towards Resolution...
A constructive resolution may also rely on mutual respect and trying to get relations back to something approaching normal. One of the key aims of resolving conflict in the workplace (apart from ensuring people get along) is keeping disruptions to business processes to a minimum. Attempting to manage and control the unpredictable nature of irate people goes a long way to achieving this.
Finally, when having to deal with somebody who is loud, angry or frustrated, aim to de-escalate the situation. Do this by meeting their loud volume not with anger, but with energy, therefore acknowledging them. Follow this by moving down in tone and volume. This should immediately start to take the emotion out of the situation. As you continue, try to unpack the issues, exploring solutions and alternatives.
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