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Navigating Conflict: 5 Strategies for Resolving Tension in the Workplace

Tension in the workplace isn’t always avoidable. When you have multiple employees from different backgrounds working in close proximity, there are bound to be disagreements occasionally.

However, business owners and leaders should know how to resolve tension in the workplace. Otherwise, it may start to affect relationship dynamics and productivity. If you need a few ideas to get started, explore some of the strategies below: 

Help Your Employees Gain Valuable Skills

You can’t expect your employees to work well together and avoid conflict if they don’t have the right skills. That’s why a collaboration skills workshop can be an excellent idea in workplaces struggling with tense employee relationships.

Collaboration skills workshops can teach your team how to resolve conflicts and work well with others while achieving a common goal. You can also create a working environment where everyone feels included and respected. 

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Practice Active Listening

Conflicts might be between employees in your business. Still, that doesn’t mean you should take a hands-off approach and let them work it out themselves. Practise active listening to help your employees feel validated while you work toward a solution.

Active listening involves listening and responding to someone to improve mutual understanding. Studies have found that business leaders who practise active listening are viewed as more trustworthy, competent, and likeable. It can also contribute to better job satisfaction when employees feel like they’re being listened to. You might disagree with what your employees are saying, but you can at least show that you care. 

Offer Mediation

Some workplace conflicts can start small. As a result, business owners don’t always feel they need to step in. They believe their employees can handle their disputes themselves.

However, some tensions can escalate to where mediation is required. In such situations, bringing in a neutral third party, such as a business owner, manager, or department head, can be helpful. They can act as a mediator to guide communications and help those involved in the conflict develop beneficial solutions. Mediation isn’t always successful. However, it can be a helpful first step toward mending relationships and devising long-term solutions. 

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Don’t Wait to Address Issues

It can be tempting to let employees fight their own battles and work out their own disputes. After all, some issues can be minor and don’t require your input. However, waiting to address issues may make them harder to resolve. They can escalate, cause dissatisfaction among your entire workforce, and even cause employees to leave. 

Waiting to address issues can also wreak havoc on your productivity. According to early studies exploring workplace conflict, an average employee will spend 2.1 hours per week managing conflict. 

Encourage Collaboration

Not all workplaces encourage collaboration. Business leaders just want the work completed and don’t necessarily care how it’s done. However, employees can benefit from a collaborative work culture where they work together to achieve business goals. They can learn to build trust, work together, and solve disputes themselves. 

It’s not just employees who benefit. Business owners do, too. A Stanford study found that collective work efforts improved performance. Those who worked with peers on a task stuck with it for 64% longer than those performing it alone. Their engagement levels were also higher, while their fatigue levels were lower. 

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As tempting as it can be to let your employees resolve their own conflicts, it’s not always in your best interests. You may enjoy a more harmonious and productive workplace by addressing issues, practising active listening, and teaching collaboration skills.

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