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How to Address Contention in the Workplace

How to Address Contention in the Workplace

The workplace can quickly become a stressful and tense environment. Certain situations, projects, and tasks can cause you to easily lose your cool or build unnecessary tension between employees. As a supervisor or leader, what can you do to address this conflict? How can you preserve relationships and ensure that contention is handled professionally? 

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional mediator to handle these difficult situations. Here are several steps to help you address contention in the workplace. 

Address the Conflict Right Away

Do not try to avoid the situation. This will only let the conflict, tension, and negative feelings continue to build. It is best to address the situation right away and with all parties involved. This will keep the situation small and will prevent each party from pulling more individuals into the argument. 

Find the Root Cause of the Contention

What is the conflict actually about? Is someone not giving 100% to a group project? Is another individual spreading false information about a certain employee? To help you truly end a certain conflict, you must determine the root cause of the situation and work to fix it. 

Remember that conflict in the workplace is like giving medicine to treat an illness. By simply taking the medication to treat the symptoms, you will feel better today. However, the symptoms will return until you treat the actual illness. You must find the cause of the conflict to solve the problem.

Listen to Both Parties — Do Not Take Sides!

As you address conflict in the workplace, you must listen to both parties. Avoid taking sides with one party over another. This can be a challenge, particularly if you are closer to one employee than another. However, as you listen, you will gain new perspectives and better understand how to properly diffuse the conflict. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

As you work to find a solution, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. As a manager or a leader, it is important you fully understand the situation. You need to understand how the conflict occurred, what is keeping it ignited, who is involved, and more. The more information you know, the better you can handle the situation and prevent similar quarrels in the future. 

Work Together to Create a Solution

As a manager, you are not the only individual who must find a solution to the conflict in the office. While you should be involved to ensure things do not get out of hand, remember that you are working with adults and they should be able to determine a solution, apologize, and forgive on their own. 

As you create a plan to end the conflict, bring all parties together and work closely with one another. You may have to nudge your employees a little, but let them determine how best to handle the situation and you make all final judgment calls. 

Conflict and contention in the workplace are not only uncomfortable and difficult for the parties involved, but they also create a negative culture for all employees. Use the above steps to help you best manage these challenging situations and establish a more positive workplace culture.