How to resolve conflict at work: talk it over with your supervisor

Are you dealing with something related with how to resolve conflict at work? It is important to resolve conflicts at work to maintain cohesion between members of staff and generate a positive workplace environment. Conflicts are inherent to human relations, as well as those at work. This is why it is inevitable to have to resolve conflicts between two people from time to time who have to work together to achieve a common goal. 

Normally the majority of conflicts are resolved easily between the parties involved and don’t go further. However, the lack of personal rapport, as well as different ways of dealing with tasks,  can lead to deep-rooted conflicts that require the mediation of a superior to avoid further conflict. 


How to resolve conflict at work with the help of your manager 

Having to share a serious issue regarding another peer is not easy. The appropriate way to approach the situation is to think properly about which aspect of the situation you want to talk about and how you will focus on it. In general, this type of issue is brought up in a performance review, but if you don’t have any coming up, it is okay to request one so the conflict doesn’t worsen. 

Here are 7 suggestions we recommend you follow on how to resolve conflict at work effectively and assertively. 

How to resolve conflict at work

1. Do not attack a colleague directly 

Even though you believe you are right, no manager likes to hear a member of staff criticize a colleague’s attitude or performance. It comes across as aggressive ad it doesn’t help if you want them on your side or to empathize with your situation. 

It’s better to raise the issue smoothly and calmly, without discrediting or using foul language. This way, it is more likely your supervisor will pay attention and listen to you.

2. Don’t question the manager accusing them of a power vacuum  

When raising the issue regarding a resolution of a workplace conflict, we can accidentally, implicitly or explicitly, insinuate the responsibilities a supervisor has when it comes to a disagreement with a colleague: No one places limits to this person, no one clarifies what their functions are and what their responsibilities include, they behave as if they had authority over the rest without any consequences… 

It doesn’t matter if this is true or not, but you should keep in mind your supervisor can interpret it as blaming them for what goes on between you and your colleague. If your manager thinks you are judging them, it’s unlikely they will take your side and help you find a solution to resolve the conflict.  

3. Describe conducts, not personal characteristics

When we are very angry with a colleague or their behavior, it is common to describe the conflict by describing defects of the person’s character, this way the more objective issues of the conflict are left aside.  

Even though you are correct, if you want your manager as an ally you should raise the issue objectively so they can interpret it easily. Don’t downgrade the person as if the only problem was that you simply don’t get along. Therefore, concentrate on what your peer does, not how they are. Describe the conducts and don’t downgrade them personally.

4. Contribute realistic solutions 

To be able to resolve workplace conflicts it is important to describe the issue concretely and contribute suggestions for a solution. Whenever it is possible, conclude your explanation with constructive proposals which transmit what you think is the best solution to resolve the workplace conflict between you and your colleague.  

As mentioned before, you shouldn’t do it so it comes across as if you are telling your supervisor what to do, or that you are giving them an ultimatum about the decision they need to take. Make it a simple proposal which you think is suitable and would like to share with them. 

5. Combine courage and honesty with diplomacy

Communicating an issue such as working with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable with your manager or allying with them to resolve the conflicting issue requires you to find a tone that balances different messages well. 

If you express yourself with too much warmth or caution it is likely you won’t get your message across to your supervisor. One the other hand, if you are too heated in the moment, you can come across aggressive and this can turn against you, so you won’t get your message across like that either. You need to find a formula that combines firmness with a practical attitude. 

6. Tailor the content of your complaints

Resolving workplace conflicts openly can mean sharing them with your common supervisor. However, to achieve your goal you must consider when to bring up the subject, your approach, and make sure you are doing it with the right person. 

If you report this conflict to someone above your supervisor, they will think (within reason) that you are skipping the chain of command. However, if you report the issue in the middle of a meeting that has nothing to do with the subject, or in a moment when your manager is not immediately available or present, the chances of success will also be quite low. 

7. Do a test run before you meet with your manager

Given the thorny nature of the matter, it is convenient to practice what you want to say with someone who is close to you and you feel comfortable with. This way, you will be able to test how what you have in mind sounds, receive feedback and that the words and tone you plan to use are consistent and appropriate for your aim. 

how to resolve conflict at work

Learn how to resolve workplace conflicts with ifeel 

Ifeel has created an emotional well-being program for companies, designed by its team of expert psychologists. This program aims to help companies prioritize the psychological well-being of their employees at the heart of their workplace culture and its strategies to increase productivity.

Thanks to this collaboration, human resources managers can receive personalized advice based on data about the main risk factors for workplace stress in their teams and what aspects should be strengthened to avoid its impact. 

For example, to tackle the issue we’ve been talking about (how to resolve conflict at work) it is important to understand that assertive conflict resolution enhances team cohesion and the creation of a favorable work environment. In this way, workers’ mental health is fostered while maintaining good conditions for optimal productivity. 

Furthermore, the emotional well-being program for companies by ifeel provides employees a mental health care service structured at different levels depending on a person’s individual needs. Employees can access different mental health care tools with ifeel’s app. They can also receive emotional support via a chat with one of the registered psychologists on our platform. If further help is needed, they can be granted access to the third level of the program: online therapy with a specialized psychologist to deal with a specific matter.

Get in touch today and request further information about our emotional well-being program for companies. 

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