Advice on dealing with workplace conflicts

What are your best suggestions for dealing with workplace conflict? Why are they effective?

My first bit of advice to to: REMAIN PROFESSIONAL!!!! 

My second bit of advice is to make sure it's a conflict - and not something else. 

One of the problems with dealing with workplace conflicts, is – sometimes it isn’t a conflict. Sometimes it’s something else.  What looks like a conflict might actually be bullying.

And you solve bullying/harassment problems in a very different way than you solve conflicts. 

For instance, if you have someone who is actively sabotaging another person through passive aggressive behavior, it’s not something you can work through. The other party has no interest in fixing the problem because creating a problem is the point.

Regardless of what is happening, remaining professional is going to help. 

I have a rule, you don’t engage in conflict resolution until the inappropriate workplace behavior stops.  So if someone is justifying yelling at someone because of “conflict.” The first thing that must stop is the yelling or other inappropriate workplace behavior. Participants are encouraged to resolve their problems professionally and in a dignified way.

If what is happening is a conflict, this will work. If it’s not a conflict – it won’t. But that’s ok because what happens when it is not a conflict is that the person who is behaving inappropriately – will continue to do so and it becomes a LOT easier to see where the problem is and deal with it when it becomes explicit like this.

So – behave professionally. Focus on solving the problem. If the other person refuses to solve the problem – that’s on them. Properly documenting these interactions are sufficient to bring attention to management if it turns out one of the parties is NOT interested in resolving the problem.

I actually have a book and online training on ‘Why Conflict Management Doesn’t Work When the Problem is Bullying.’

I recommend that managers use a bullying elimination model whenever they have a ‘conflict.’ That way what is reinforced is appropriate professional workplace behavior and professional resolution of disputes. 

Because let’s face it – the only time disputes become a problem is when they result in inappropriate workplace behavior.  If you focus on fixing the inappropriate behavior – you create the conditions in which professional disagreements are resolved professionally. Failure to address inappropriate behavior masquerading as conflict – just creates more problems.

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