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A guide to conflict resolution in the workplace

Workplace conflict is a common occurrence, specially in large organisations. Resolving conflicts should be a priority for every manager. If he does not engage in conflict resolution, the problem will spread and have an impact on the whole office. Conflict in the workplace has the potential to drag down productivity and profitability, and here's how you can tackle it.

Basic assumptions

Here are the basic assumptions of managing conflict in the workplace: 1. The problem will not go away if the manager avoids it; 2. Effective communication in the workplace is essential to resolve issues; 3. If the conflict is not resolved in a timely manner, it will impact the entire organisation; 4. Meeting people separately is the worst way of resolving conflict in the workplace.

Resolving workplace conflicts

1. Try and keep the atmosphere as light as possible. The parties involved would already be tensed up bracing for a full-blown confrontation and a heavy, sombre atmosphere will only add to the gloom. 2. The manager may be pressurised by the warring parties, but he must stand his ground. He must not give the impression that he will cave in easily. He must face the situation with a steely resolve to do justice. 3. An unresolved conflict can be like a war, and no one can be a winner in a war. The manager must not declare one person as the winner and the other a loser. He must work out a solution that is acceptable to both parties. 4. The manager must ensure that business goals and corporate regulations are in no way compromised while devising conflict resolution strategies. 5. Time must not be wasted in arguing and proving who is right and who is wrong, or in idle chatter. 6. Both parties must be asked to state what they would like the other party to do. This will make for an excellent starting point and the manager can work around a solution depending on what each party wants. 7. A manager out to resolve conflicts must learn negotiation skills. These skills can enthuse a debate and make the warring parties realise that they are dealing with a strong yet flexible person who will not take sides. 8. If the situation warrants a further investigation, then schedule another meeting. Don't pronounce judgement in the first meeting. 9. If a solution is arrived, everybody must commit to follow it in letter and spirit. The manager must convey to both parties that they are mature adults and he expects them to stand by what has been discussed. These are the steps involved in resolving workplace conflicts. Each conflict situation is unique and must be handled with care.

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