Research says that people who have attended college have a 13% lower risk of divorce. Yet, even those couples still fight. Research shows that the average couple will fight, on average, 19 times per month.
Just like in marriage, conflict at the workplace is inevitable as people from different backgrounds interact and work together. As a human resource manager, or someone with employees working under you, you need to be skilled in mediating workplace conflict to help you resolve issues as soon as possible and have people working in harmony. Disputes can be avoided if you take the right steps to facilitate effective communication and diffuse anger. But when they do occur, applying the following series of steps will come in handy in resolving mediating workplace issues.
- Remain calm: Arguments and conflicts at work can bring anger, which is not easy to control. However, research has shown that remaining calm gives you an advantage over others in a heated situation. Workplace conflict resolution hits a dead end when we stop listening to understand and allow our anger to take over. Instead, you start listening to argue back. Remaining calm helps you look at the bigger picture. Most workplace disputes get resolved eventually, which makes it vital to stop and think before you respond to a coworker.
- Jump in early: It is crucial to meet with feuding parties before the issue escalates to a full-blown conflict. Most issues that reach this level often require the services of workplace mediating services to help resolve the issues. If you’ve arrested the problem in time, you might not have needed a mediator to come in and help you out.
Sometimes, you will arrest the issue early, but if the parties are not willing to resolve the conflict, mediation from a third party may still be required. Once you call the opposing camps, make sure to remain neutral and by not taking sides. This allows you to give an impartial judgment and resolve the issue without further damage.
- Prevent personal attacks: Mediating a workplace conflict means that you have to resolve the dispute before people start attacking each other personally. It is common for coworkers to say things they don’t mean when they are angry, which often wounds the other party and causes damage that cannot be fixed. This diminishes trust and commitment, which snowballs to work-related issues. For instance, opposing parties may delay the completion of a project if they are unable to look past their conflict and complete their responsibilities.
- Take the battle offline: Workplace mediation needs to be taken to a place where employees feel safe to speak their minds and communicate without feeling judged. Whether you will take the conflict resolution in the workplace to your office behind closed doors or the boardroom, it is essential that the feuding parties feel that other employees are not eavesdropping. It is often embarrassing to be scolded in front of your coworkers, and this might affect the work delivery of the employee on the receiving end. Privacy is key.
- Find commonalities between the two parties: Mediating a workplace conflict takes a whole new turn when you focus on the positive and make notes of it. If the parties seem to have something they agree with, start by discussing the positive aspect which will help lower emotions in the room. Once everyone is calm, address the elephant in the room by making small notes from everyone’s perspective. This enables you to understand each person point of view. It also helps the opposing party to look at the situation from the opposite side.
- Focus on asking descriptive questions: Asking a lot of descriptive questions during mediation helps resolve conflicts. Descriptive questions help each party reconstruct the full incident and steers their focus from the specific issue that put them off. Refrain from criticizing one party in front of the other. The idea is to resolve the conflict and not choose a winner. Criticism tends to show favoritism.
Mediating a workplace conflict requires you to have the skills to manage the two opposing parties and help them see the situation from the other person’s point of view. If you can do this, you can help them resolve the conflict.