Everyone, Chill Out: How To Address Workplace Conflict Without Making It Awkward


Conflict in the workplace can make any day difficult. It can also keep important projects from getting done, alienate customers and clients, and increase the tension in people’s lives to levels that are unnecessary and even dangerous.

The most common reaction to conflict is to just ignore it if they aren’t directly involved in it. But for those who are a part of that conflict, working together may become difficult or impossible, and the conflict could eventually reach a point where something has to be done about it.

Fortunately, there are ways to address workplace conflict without making things awkward for the people involved.

Steer Clear of Passive-Aggressiveness

It’s great to have a workplace full of people who say what they mean and mean what they say. It makes life much easier to deal with, since work is such a large part of most people’s days. But there will inevitably be times when people aren’t going to get along and the last thing to resort to is passive-aggressiveness about the issue. Be clear, be direct and be calm. If this means “being the better person” so be it! 

Enforce the Rules for Everyone

One way to make a workplace really awkward is when rules apply to some people and not others. “Playing favorites”, in any situation but is a serious issue for the workplace as it leads to animosity towards the person(s) deemed as “favorite”, as well as the person showing their favoritism. To avoid conflict before it starts, its better to treat everyone the same, even if you wish you could help out a good worker or reward someone over and above what’s accepted and approved. It’s a shame when good people can’t get extra breaks, it there isn’t fairness in the workplace conflict is bound to happen.

Avoid Singling People Out Unless It’s Absolutely Necessary

If you have someone causing conflict and they just won’t back off, you may have to single them out. If that can be avoided, though, it’s generally best to do so. Singling people out can lead to more infighting than what was already taking place, and can make the person who was singled out very angry. That can even lead to violence in the workplace, which is something NOBODY wants. There are ways to remind people of company rules and reinforce those rules without naming a particular person as the reason for that reminder.

Remind Everyone About Your Common Mission

Any company is bigger than just one or two people, and when there are large objectives that everyone is working towards everyone should know what they are. Focusing on the common goal can reduce conflict by helping people see where they fit into the process and how important they are. If they don’t feel threatened by others, they are less likely to start conflicts that have to be resolved. Everyone needs a job, purpose, and value, and you can give all of your employees that opportunity.

Don’t Be “That Guy”

You know that guy – the one who’s always meddling in everything and always has to give his opinion on things. He’s also the one who knows it all, and is never wrong. Believe it or not, there are times that workplace conflicts actually sort themselves out, and waiting a minute to see if that happens isn’t always a bad thing. If there’s always someone overly eager to step into instances of conflict the second they starts, no one in the company will learn how to handle those conflicts on their own and address them properly.

Follow Up On the Issue for Proper Resolution

Even once a conflict has been addressed and settled, it’s a good idea to follow up and make sure there aren’t any ongoing problems related to that conflict. Not everyone is going to like each other in a workplace, and that’s okay. The biggest issue is whether those people can work together, or whether they can be separated from one another and still do their jobs effectively. Resolving conflict isn’t always easy, and when it comes to the individual’s part in resolutions, the ultimate goal is to keep those awkwardly tense moments at bay and instead focus on moving forward efficiently.


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