Do you or have you ever worked where there wasn’t some sort of conflict?  First, I looked up the word “conflict” and it has several definitions: dispute, disagreement, clash, difference, argument, quarrel, or discord.  Do any of these fit your workplace?  Face it, we are all human beings, and it just seems to be in our nature to look out for ourselves, many times forgetting to think about the others who come to work every day. 

Workplace conflicts cannot be ignored.  Companies have trained leaders that use their expertise to resolve differences before they grow into something destructive and harmful for their employees.  When there is discord among workers, companies will start seeing more absenteeism, turnover, stress, accidents, lower productivity, and a decrease in employee morale.  Leaders must meet with those in conflict together, not separately.  This gives those involved the opportunity to give their side of the story, as well as listen to the other party.  If it is done separately, stories sometimes have a way of getting stretched a little.  Mediating a conflict is a serious responsibility.  A leader must consider that if conflicts are not resolved, the safety of the employees may be compromised. 

Bullying in the workplace should never be accepted.  Some of the safety factors that are seen where there are conflicts are aggressive behaviors by certain workers, exclusion of  workers, physically abusing or threatening them, yelling at or criticizing an employee, or tampering with equipment.  Supervisors must treat complaints seriously, and not ignoring potential problems. 

Some of the causes of conflict may be the fact that one person’s success in achieving his/her goals for the day depend on another person’s input/output of data that the first person needs. Certain workers are very task-oriented, while others sail right through a project.  We are all different- that’s what makes the world unique.  Some of this “uniqueness” may be at the root of conflict, whether it is intentional or unintentional, such as: differences in gender/background, educational backgrounds, experience, ethnic heritage, or political preferences.  (It seems as though there’s always something to “agree to disagree” on!)  Statistics show that 85% of dismissals in the U.S. are due to personality conflicts. 

Do you have a story?  How do you justify your poor behavior, if that’s the case?  Have you let someone down more than one time, but you reason that it’s because you are overworked?  If a co-worker brings a birthday card to the boss, do you think it’s because he’s buttering up the boss for a promotion; however, if you bring a card to the boss, it’s because you are a warm and caring person.  Re-thinking your story about your differences at work is important because it keeps you from over-reacting to a situation; it opens up an opportunity for healthy discussion, and rather than ambushing other persons with your emotions, you begin to sift “fact”  from “story”.  

Just The Facts: 

Make a list about the conflict you are experiencing with someone.  On the left side of the page, describe incidents that you have been telling or thinking about that person.  Things that have kept going through your mindOn the right side of the page, list just the facts.  Specific actions and information you have taken and the objective of your desires to resolve the quarrel.  This could open up a healthy conversation with less accusations and improve cooperation with each other.  If you and a co-worker can work out any misunderstandings, you will both get more out of your job, and your company will get more out of you.  Supervisors want to help, so go to them if you can’t take care of it yourself. 

Communication is the key to success in every walk of life – in our work and with our families.  If you are happy at work, you won’t be taking those complaints and worries home with you.  Be assertive, but always respect others.  Share tips with your workers that can help them in their jobs.  Life is too short to carry heavy loads such as resentment, frustration, confusion and anger with us.


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