Dealing constructively with work conflicts

Just like in private life, conflicts are part of everyday life at work: people have different tastes, have different opinions, and approach tasks in different ways. If there is then a bad mood, a thoughtless remark or a misleading behavior, problems are inevitable. Professional conflict management is required so that discussions and misunderstandings do not turn into a tangible dispute.

This interview was originally posted by Brunel Germany. See original post here.

Colleague A submitted his vacation without prior agreement and secured the bridge days, colleague B does not complete his task on time despite the deadline and colleague C interferes in projects without being asked. Even if employers may dream that all employees get along perfectly and thus provide the best possible service for the company, such an idea is utopian. Conflicts are inevitable and natural. Because differences of opinion are essential elements of a functioning communication - provided that an exchange about them takes place afterwards.

These are the basic rules that count

As soon as an argument arises, many people withdraw and avoid the unpleasant discussion. On the other hand, there are those who literally provoke arguments and who enjoy them. Still others take a conflict personally and switch from the factual and emotional level. When that happens, job fun is lost and work can make you downright sick. The general rule is: conflict management can be trained.

The following basic rules are essential for this:

Personal attacks or comments below the belt are no-gos.

Only in this way can both viewpoints be understood.

Even if the other opinion is not shared or approved, it should be respected.

Even if the opinions are different, there are often similarities between the interlocutors. Anyone who is actively looking for it can use it as a basis for finding a solution.

Dealing constructively with conflicts can thus bring about positive changes. Because different opinions make life as well as everyday work colorful and diverse. They can help find the best possible way to accomplish a task. Differences of opinion thus serve as a source of impetus for creative solutions that can offer undreamt-of entrepreneurial opportunities.

Prevention: The right strategy is everything

However, some disputes are superfluous and should therefore be avoided from the outset. Conflict prevention is about developing a feeling for a burgeoning conflict and nipping it in the bud. Proactive action and the right conversation strategy are required here. These include, for example, a functioning flow of information, the art of formulating criticism constructively, mutual respect and forgiving mistakes.

Of course, there are also serious conflicts that place a particular strain on the working atmosphere. This can be bullying, xenophobia or sexual harassment. Such points must not be tolerated in any company or by any employee. If the problems do arise, they must be addressed in good time. A company agreement that regulates the handling of these issues can therefore be an effective instrument for successful conflict prevention.

Text: Elisabeth Stockinger (originally in German)