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When you get down to it, every business is a people business. Every team in every industry must manage its various personalities and interpersonal relationships. When personalities clash, or relationships hit a snag, successfully navigating workplace conflict is essential to the health of the business and its employees. 

If you’re unsure how to mediate these situations effectively, we’ve got you covered. This article will explore conflict resolution, from what it is to tips on how it’s done. 

What is conflict resolution?

Conflict resolution is when the parties involved work together to resolve their issues.1 It can be used to diffuse everything from mild disagreements to outright arguments, and it’s invaluable in the workplace, where cohesion among team members is so important. Overcoming emotional divides can be difficult, but finding a solution that satisfies everyone involved is paramount to a successful, complete resolution. However, almost anyone can learn to do it with patience and the right approach.

Why is conflict resolution important in the workplace?

When teams lack cohesion, they perform less effectively or fall apart entirely. Workplace conflict can lower productivity and motivation, endanger client relationships, and even cause issues with employee retention.2 While many adverse outcomes can occur when conflict resolution is lacking, even more positive impacts can be made when done effectively. Conflict resolution builds trust, puts leadership in a position to succeed, creates a happier workplace environment and so much more.

8 tips for conflict resolution in the workplace

If you’re unsure how best to handle a conflict in your workplace, you’re not alone. Even the best leaders sometimes struggle with conflict resolution. What’s most important is you’re not ignoring the conflict. Here are 8 tips to help you diffuse situations and build a happier, more productive workplace.

1. Acknowledge and understand the conflict

The worst way to handle conflict is by ignoring it. Conflict aversion often leads people to believe this is the best route. It’s important to remember that even the most consummate professional is still a human being, and humans get in conflict. With that in mind, take the first step towards resolution by acknowledging a conflict and ensuring you understand every side, from your part to the perspectives of the other parties involved.3

2. Be an active listener

It’s not enough to hear what people say – you must ensure they know they are being heard. That is exactly what active listening is all about. Don’t be passive; ask questions when you’re confused by something, restate points to confirm you’ve understood them, and maintain eye contact to show you’re paying attention.4

3. Communicate clearly and transparently

Honesty, openness, and clarity are crucial pillars of conflict resolution. Everyone involved needs to know they are free to share their thoughts before, during and after the situation has passed. When things go unsaid, the door is left open for further conflict in the future. Unclear communication can exacerbate a situation, though, so every point must be made as clearly as possible to prevent misunderstandings.1

4. Remain calm

Allowing yourself to get fired up during a conflict is not an effective strategy. A calm tone with balanced responses helps promote the same even keel among everyone else involved.1 Losing your temper can cause others to do the same. It’s okay to walk away from a situation if you cannot remain calm. Take your time, regain control, and return to the conflict with a cool head.

5. Avoid placing blame

Even if someone is to blame, pointing that out is unlikely to resolve the conflict. In many cases, it’s not important who is at fault. Everyone involved has a side to tell, and no one will be satisfied with being told theirs is wrong. Conflict resolution requires teamwork, specifically between everyone involved, so make them feel safe sharing their side. This will help promote a solution that everyone is happy with.1

6. Keep private conversations private

Don’t endanger a situation by bringing more people in unnecessarily. Every additional party complicates the matter further and risks escalation through hearsay. Rather than venting about the conflict to others, try writing your thoughts down or, if you absolutely must share, go to a supervisor.5 Confiding in someone higher up on the managerial chain can provide you with adequate support without risking your words will be leaked.

7. Agree on a resolution plan

Conflict resolution is only complete with a solution. This means finding a way forward that everyone involved can agree on. Be realistic when creating a plan and remember that moving on from the conflict is paramount. Focus on what’s possible, then create a plan through collaboration with everyone involved.3 This will ensure the plan succeeds and satisfies all parties.

8. Be patient

Conflict resolution can take time, so don’t be discouraged if a conflict in your workplace doesn’t end quickly. Everyone processes emotions at different speeds. Some might be ready to forgive and forget within the hour, while others might need until next week to resolve things. In either case, remember that whatever pace things are proceeding is okay. Monitoring the situation and allowing it to develop at a rate that works for everyone will ensure that all parties involved attain closure when a resolution is reached.5

Avoiding turbulence in the first place is usually preferable, but when you’ve run dry on ways to avoid conflict, you must understand how to resolve it. And by remaining calm, objective and focused on the goal of the discussion, you can do precisely that.

Additional tips for managing employees and your business

Discover additional tips and resources in the Nationwide Business Solutions Center you can use to manage employees, grow your business, and more.

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[1] “What Are Important Conflict Resolution Skills?”, (Accessed February 2024)
[2] “Workplace Conflicts? 5 Tips to Improve Communication", (Accessed February 2024)
[3] “7 Conflict Resolution Skills (and How To Use Them at Work)”, (Accessed February 2024)
[4] “Active Listening: Techniques, Benefits, Examples”, (Accessed February 2024)
[5] “27 Conflict Resolution Skills to Use with Your Team and Your Customers”, (Accessed February 2024)