Sort out team conflict

Conflict at work is inevitable, but not insurmountable.

If your team is constantly in conflict, it’s time to take action. Here are my tips for improving your team relationships.

Be proactive

Conflict often starts from the smallest of beginnings. Unfortunately the endings can be painful and prolonged. Be proactive and prevent the conflict from escalating. How? Look out for problem signs. Are you picking up negative vibes from someone – getting the cold shoulder or offhand remarks, for example? If so, despite the awkwardness, it’s best to be direct and ask your coworker if there’s an issue. Is the problem between someone else? Perhaps you can help with mediation.

Open up

Communication (or the lack of it) often causes conflict. Sometimes the issue is the general work culture. Often problems arise from different communication styles. Whatever the more fundamental issues, you can still make a difference right now. Start with open communication. This means being upfront, honest and respectful. Share bad news as well as good.

Pick your battles

Sometimes our emotions get in the way of our better judgement. Our reaction to situations often makes them worse. Try to manage your emotional response to testing situations. For example, do you have to get upset when your boss is rude to you? Is your coworker’s laugh really that irritating? Do you have to be defensive about who does what? In most cases the answer is ‘no’ (the jury’s out on the laugh). If you’re more selective about what upsets you, you’ll be able to focus efforts on the battles that are worth fighting.  

Focus on the future

A natural response to conflict is to try to get to the bottom of it. You might bring the warring parties together to talk things through. It is important to understand the issue and everyone’s take on it. However, if you’re not careful this can turn into a ‘He started it!’ ‘No, she did!’ debate.

Don’t let the discussion descend into a blame game. Ultimately, it’s better to focus on what each person wants to happen from this point forward. For example, one person might want the other to be more polite when making requests. The other might like his coworker to provide more regular progress updates.

Book Eleanor to run a session for your team. Contact us now.

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