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8 Methods to Efficiently Reduce Conflicts in the Workplace

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Statistically, leaders spend up to 13% of their time resolving conflicts. That is caused by the inability to handle disputes and the fear of their deteriorating properly.

Conflicts are like illnesses. In the beginning, they are easy to cure but difficult to detect. Further on, they are easy to identify but difficult to cure.

But not all conflicts are evil. Sometimes, they can be the first step towards something new and exciting. And conversely, a seemingly insignificant situation may cause so-called cumulative conflicts. So, instead of focusing on a specific event, you should try and see the bigger picture. 

The Importance of Sticking to the Rules

We believe that common sense is enough to resolve conflicts. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Especially in situations when we become stressed, scared, or when our competition instinct is awakened. Therefore, rules in the workplace are just as necessary as in football. We need yellow cards and red cards to clearly mark the boundaries.

It is also important to observe general social rules, such as greeting each other and treating each other with respect and dignity. Negative body language, such as mean looks, grim faces, and shaking of the head, is not acceptable. Tone and attitude can also lead to conflicts and should, therefore, be controlled.

Avoid Criticizing, Hurting, and Embarrassing

We could have a much easier time resolving conflicts if we could stop ourselves from:

  • Hurting
  • Criticizing
  • Embarrassing
  • Offending
  • Insulting
  • Humiliating others 

Let’s take a look at eight possible ways of preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts.

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Method 1: The I-Method

When approaching a conflict, it is important to use the correct pronoun. It’s so easy to say the word “you”:

  • You must keep your voice down.
  • You must come on time.
  • You must always collect your stuff.

Instead, use the word “I” to describe how you feel:

  • I cannot concentrate when you talk so loud.
  • I’ll be in trouble you arrive late for the morning meeting.
  • I am not OK with you leaving your stuff on the lunchroom table.

This way, you don’t blame a person and turn their attention to your attitude to the issue.

Method 2: Open Communication and Clearly Defined Responsibilities

Effective conflict prevention is often a result of open communication. Therefore, you need to ensure that there is no hidden communication and that gossip is kept to an absolute minimum. You don’t need to know whether your co-workers’ children buy cheap essay online or what guy that girl from the sales department is meeting. On the other hand, conversations about having an office party or organizing a surprise for a chief’s birthday may be quite useful. Of course, it’s better to set a particular time (or even place) for them.

 Establish clear responsibilities, so no one gets blamed when things go wrong. Everyone should be aware of their personal obligations that come with hiring.

Method 3: Take a 10-Minute Break to Let Off Steam

Cumulative conflicts often occur in situations requiring you to deal with a lot of customers. There is no time for making small talk or clearing up any misunderstanding before it gets out of hand. The solution is to have 10-minute breaks. That’s a good way of letting off steam and shaking negative feelings off. 

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Method 4: The 24-Hour Rule

Sleep today — speak tomorrow. That’s an old Chinese proverb, and there’s a lot to it. What it means is that you should always sleep on the matter before saying or doing something you will later regret about. That’s what we call the 24-hour rule. 

Method 5: Ombudsman Conflict

Conflict researcher Thomas Jordan proposes that organizations appoint a special conflict ombudsman. This person will be trained to deal with individuals and groups that conflict with one another.

Some companies have dream coaches who do roughly the same. You seek their help whenever you have trouble realizing your dream. We think this can also prevent conflicts. The thing is, conflicts often occur due to dissatisfaction. Therefore, we should stop it in its tracks and prevent it from crossing over to our colleagues, customers, or suppliers.

Method 6: The Orange Method

The method is named after a well-known old story that is still relevant today. Two people argue about who should take the last orange. Finally, they begin to examine the need for the orange more thoroughly. And it turns out that one of them wants to juice the orange, while the other one wants to peel it and use the peel for making pastries. The solution is that they peel the orange and then juice it. That way, both of them get what they want. So, always define the intentions of the conflict’s participants first. Then, consider every strategy.

Method 7: The Steps Method

It’s not that easy to resolve a conflict once it has arisen. Wounded feelings and suspicions don’t go away with a handshake and the word “sorry.” It takes time to restore trust between the parties. Therefore, the steps method, i.e., step-by-step conflict resolution, should be applied.

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Method 8: Hold Regular Meetings

Common mistake managers make when introducing changes is they try to silence negative criticism. It is more efficient to hold regular meetings where employees can air all their grievances. That can be very helpful and prevent the problems from aggravating.

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