How to Resolve a Conflict with a Coworker

Improving Interpersonal Relationships at Work

Learning to resolve conflict effectively demonstrates emotional intelligence, teamwork, and professionalism. It is a skill that ambitious employees must master to get ahead.

The Steps to Resolving a Conflict

  1. Give the coworker a voice
  2. Mirror back
  3. Be honest
  4. Stay calm and focus on facts
  5. Stay in the present
  6. Admit to errors
  7. Find a point of agreement
  8. Create a win-win solution
  9. Thank the coworker

Resolving a Work Conflict Explained

Giving coworkers a voice means allowing them to speak and express their opinions and perspectives on the conflict. Patiently listen and do not interrupt coworkers as they speak.

Give them the floor for as long as it takes for them to get what is bothering them off their chest.

Once they are finished speaking, mirror back what they’ve said by summarizing what they said. For example, say to the coworker, “So what I have heard you say is…”. This will reassure the coworker that he has been heard and understood.

When speaking to coworkers, make sure, to be honest and forthright. There is no point in stretching the truth or lying about the facts, as it can come back to affect the relationship later when the untruth is discovered.

Demonstrating anger with a raised voice can escalate the discussion into a fight. Staying calm by breathing and consciously using a low voice will keep the discussion professional.

Focus on the facts by discussing the where, what, who, why, when, and how of the conflict. If necessary, research to identify times, frequencies, and other quantitative information to support a claim.

Avoid bringing up the past. Rehashing old history confirms that past conflicts have not been resolved. Staying in the present will keep the focus on resolving the conflict that is affecting work now.

Admitting mistakes demonstrates a willingness to learn and leave egos out of the mix. If both coworkers involved can take responsibility for their errors, the discussion can turn out to find solutions.

Look for points of agreement as a foundation for the solution. If coworkers can be flexible enough to see that there are some areas that they agree on, there will be a resolution.

Ultimately, a win-win resolution is a goal. To create a win-win solution to a coworker conflict, expand on the points of agreement and areas where errors occurred that can be corrected.

At the end of the discussion, it is important to thank coworkers for agreeing to resolve the problem. The fact that they are willing to work through the issue is something to appreciate.

Improving interpersonal relationships at work and demonstrating effective communication skills benefit not only the coworkers involved. Other staff members that are directly affected by the conflict also benefit.

Team Building