Battlefield at Work: Resolving Conflict

By August 29, 2016Stress, Work

For a lot of us, most of our waking hours are spent on the job. Each day, we deal with different people with varied personalities and diverse working styles. Invariably there are differences in opinion and uncomfortable friction.

While there is very little one can do to choose the kind of people we work with (unless you’re the one who’s doing all the hiring!), there are ways to manage the inevitable conflict. Here is the cheat sheet on how to handle skirmishes at work:

  1. Keep calm

Whether you have just been ticked off by your boss or are hurt by a snide comment from a co-worker, take a moment to calm down. Taking time to cool down will help you act instead of react.

  1. Logic trumps emotion

When you’re feeling calmer, re-look at the situation logically. Chances are that the conflict is not aimed at you personally so don’t consider it a personal attack.

  1. Stay objective

Pay attention to what might have triggered the situation and why the other person might have reacted the way they did. Look at the conflict from both sides, including what part you may have (consciously or unconsciously) played in it.

  1. Win-win resolution

Think of how the conflict can be resolved in a mutually beneficial way. Can you give a little to get what you want? Can you let an unpleasant remark pass without retaliating? Can you offer an apology for something you might have said or done unintentionally?

  1. Communicate your angst

Often people don’t realise that their actions or words may have upset somebody else. Don’t hesitate to be the first one to communicate and talk about what’s wrong.

  1. Cost vs. benefit

Although not engaging in conflict is an easy shortcut, unresolved conflict can often have dire consequences. Unaddressed anger and irritation can simmer under the surface, affecting your productivity (and giving you ulcers!). Long term, the benefits of resolving an issue far outweigh the discomfort of confronting the problem.


Ignoring conflict doesn’t make it go away. Rather, unresolved problems can grow exponentially over time. If you find yourself struggling with work conflict, reach out to a wayForward coach. We can help you build conflict-resolution skills so that issues at work don’t overwhelm or exhaust you, and you feel more in control of your work life.