Five Ways to De-Escalating Conflict at Any Workplace
A guide to promoting healthy communication in the workplace.
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If you work in an office – any office, you are well aware of office politics. People don’t get along well; human resource always has a challenge up their sleeves and yadda yadda yadda. What happens when the headlines are rife with tense internal conflict? Since we all stress so much upon the “win-win” situation at ‘Productivity Land’, we decided to do a roundup of tips for de-escalating conflict at workspaces.
Trust us, they work…well, most of the time. If you have a good organization that has a knack for following good habits, they will take no time in de-escalating tense situations. After all, we have to work at the same place; day in and day out. There’s no point in keeping an argument alive if you have to see the same person the next day.
Take it as an occupational hazard. However, as long as everyone’s working under the same roof, things should go smooth. Here are some of the tips for de-escalation that might come in handy. Oh, and we paraphrased some examples from different sources. They relate to several common scenarios at the offices. This way, you can easily resolve whatever conflict you have at your workplace.
Tips of De-escalation – Certain Occupations Are an Open Invitation to Conflicts!
Communication is the key to de-escalating work-related tension. It could be an argument between two employees, it could be something brewing up over a while, or anything in particular. Other than that, the setup of the organization matters a lot too.
For instance, if employees are working in a construction-related setup, there’s always going to be different situations subject to an act of violence. While at ‘Productivity Land’, we mostly focus on white-collar jobs and usually IT related setup. However, if we take and apply the tips for de-escalating tension at the workplace to a broader setup, things are more complex.
So, we were talking about violence and other activities where it only takes a few minutes for two employees to jump in on a fistfight, or a rage meltdown. It happens; not usually at IT offices and places where people in suits and ties work; however, meltdowns do occur and people get into more than their fair share of arguments.
The usual course of action is that HR or some superior intervenes. One of the employees or both of them is suspended. If they are unfortunate, they may lose their job. That’s the kind of work environment where OSHA comes in. In that order, OSHA does a lot more than concerning itself with people’ safety.
Knowing These Signs of Escalation Work Wonders:
Ahead of any argument, if you see or exhibit one of the following signs, you know that you’re going to need to use tips for de-escalating tension at the workplace. Keep your eyes open for the following:
• Two people are about to argue or arguing in a muttering tone. One of them or both of them have their fists clenched. There might be signs of tightened jaws. Pay close attention while you’re at it.
• Body language changes from neutral to aggressive, and/or defensive. A defensive stance is that when people crossover their arms in front of their chest.
• One of the two people starts to fidget. Perhaps that’s what fidget spinners were made for! You never know!.
• The eyebrows of either participant tense up.
Apart from the aforementioned signs that lead to using tips on de-escalating work conflicts, you can tell a lot when people are bullying, yelling, and refusing to adhere to the decency protocol.
Let’s say you have two people working in a thriving organization. Person A comes in early, whereas Person B comes a little late. Since both of their jobs are sales-oriented, Person A ends up taking a lot of calls from customers, which would have been otherwise attended by Person B.
This scenario leads to day-to-day arguments where sometimes Person A passes on sarcastic comments about Person B coming in late. This is an ongoing conflict with a pattern behind it. What is the best course of action for HR and senior management to take care of this issue?
The Superiority Complex:
A and B are two people working as managers. A is a senior manager, while B is assistant to the senior manager. Since they both work at the same branch, and usually within a team that responds to both A and B for any number of things, both individuals often bicker about stuff. Experience wise, B, has a few years going on A. Degree and qualification wise, A, has more academic accolades to show in his resume.
Both people often argue and end up raising this point that how one person is better than the other, and how he/she expects the other manager to treat him/her. Superiority complex also kicks in from time to time. And that when it happens, the arguments escalate to staff-wide conflicts where peers bear witness to A and B bickering over their expertise and all that.
What’s the Deduction Here?
In both of the aforementioned cases, do you see that both types of people end up working together? The first one is “conflicts”; they are inevitable in any organization. The second one is the lack of communication. When two people conflict, they seem to be “communicating”, but they are not exactly opening up about the issues they have.
Here are Our Tips For De-escalating Work Tension:
Address It ASAP• Whenever you have a conflict with someone, or you see your peers in a company arguing over something, address it. Don’t keep things buckled up. A lot of times when employees share their concerns about a common conflict, that’s when things really start to make sense. That way, both of them get to know each others’ mindset and where they’re coming from.
5. Role of HR / Management is Critical:
If you are in a position to resolve a conflict at the workplace, listen to both sides. Some employees play the victim card, but you have to listen to everyone – and remain unbiased. That means even if you like one employee over the other, you need to remain neutral. Doing so will help you to identify the exact reasons that led to the inflamed situation in the first place.
4. Try to Establish a Communication Bridge:
Try your best to get both parties to talk. We know that workplace conflicts often lead to people turning out to be snobs; however, wouldn’t it be better if everyone got involved and opened up about the conflict? Of course, it will start with pointing fingers, but there will be a resolution when both employees or parties have conveyed their concerns.
3. There’s Always a Common Ground:
What’s the point of arguing or having a conflict at the workplace when you know that you have to deal with the same person the next day? Look at the bigger picture and know that there is always a common ground.
2. There Is No Harm in Compromising:
Compromising takes a lot of courage. Often, people are not so submissive because of their alter ego. For the sake of common grounds and working together; however, give in a little. Demonstrate the ability to compromise by doing it yourself. It will inspire your colleagues to harness the same emotional mindset. As a result, your company will miraculously evolve into a group of people working together as a team.
1. The Realization Factor:
In the end, the most important tip for de-escalating conflicts at work is the realization factor. After all, we are human beings; we are made of complex emotions that either balance or unbalance our work profile. This is exactly why different schools of management proposed the idea of having a human resource department at companies.
The job of the human resource department is not just about monitoring employee performance, managing their pay scales and holidays. The most important aspect of human resources is to manage “humans” as a resource. We are all valuable, and we need help from time to time to hone our abilities to work in a company.
We hope that this article has helped you to learn some useful tips on de-escalating work-related tension and conflicts. Make sure you drop in your comments through the comments section below — we want to hear about conflicts in your workplace, and how your team delt with them!
Published at DZone with permission of Steve Parker. See the original article here.
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