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Managing workplace conflict

Make sure you are prepared to effectively handle business-related disputes.


An article titled, “Top 10 ways to manage conflict in a business,” featured on The Globe and Mail’s website,, discusses how to handle workplace conflict when it arises.

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“When conflict arises in the workplace — as it inevitably does — many smaller organizations and family enterprises are not prepared to handle it,” says Nathalie Boutet, contributing writer, in the article. “It takes some careful crafting of policies, as well as genuine self-reflection, to get the team back on track.”

The article offers 10 helpful tips for successfully managing disputes in the workplace:

  • Understand and evaluate emotional responses. When employees have strong reactions to a conflict at work, they may put up a defensive guard, resorting to a “fight or flight reaction,” often inhibiting their ability to reason. Communicate with the employees involved in the dispute after their anger has subdued. Speaking with an emotionally triggered person usually leads nowhere.
  • Self-awareness. Do you avoid conflict or are you an aggressive leader? Take into consideration how you handle conflict and the impact you may have on the situation. Everyone may not respond the same way to your approach. You may have to adapt your style with certain people to more effectively deal with the conflict.
  • Consider all involved parties’ views. Always consider the different views of everyone involved. “No one wants to be told they are wrong,” explains Boutet. “In fact, dialogue is often halted when someone is made to be wrong.”
  • Get to the root of the problem. A conflict could be the result of a deeper problem. It is important to get to the real source of the issue and figure out how to move forward.
  • Everyone is different. Accept your team for who they are and who they are not. People process things differently. Knowing how your employees/co-workers approach situations “provides invaluable understanding.”
  • Implement open sessions. Implement feedback meetings or weekly “open sessions” to brainstorm what is working and what is not. This can help to address any conflict before it escalates.
  • Create conflict resolution protocol. Invest time to create a conflict resolution protocol in which everyone participates. If the team helps to create the protocol, they may be more willing to accept it.
  • Adopt communication guidelines. Make sure your team recognizes unacceptable communication because not all forms of communication are appropriate in a work environment. Create guidelines that you everyone must abide by.
  • Be vigilant. Enforce the measures that you and your team have created. No one likes conflict. Once you have created communication guidelines and a conflict resolution protocol, implement them in a strategic and consistent manner.
  • Building the right team. If an employee is creating conflict or not functioning well, evaluate his/her position and whether he/she should be a part of the business.

Read the entire article on managing workplace conflict here.

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