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How to Diffuse Conflicts in the Workplace Before They Begin

In any workplace, tension is a big concern for managers. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, “Managers spend about 25 percent of their time resolving conflicts[1].” Employees will work better when there is a tension-free environment, but achieving that may be a struggle. These methods are effective for diffusing conflicts between employees, co-workers and managers before they even begin.

Eliminate Individual Stress Through Workplace Flexibility

When individual employees feel stressed, they may be more likely to create conflicts with others or feel vulnerable to the remarks of others. While personal stress is often beyond the scope of a manager, there are ways that flexibility in the workplace can significantly reduce stress. Flexible schedules and the option to telecommute, for example, can mean that parents don’t have to come in when their children are sick, and they won’t have to rush into work after oversleeping for fear of being reprimanded.

Give Credit When and Where It’s Due

According to Steve Dinkin, president of the National Conflict Resolution Center, “The most common workplace conflicts stem from someone taking credit for another person’s work[2].” In order to ensure this can’t happen, clearly investigate who is responsible for successful action, and then reward these individuals appropriately.

Encourage Employees to Find Common Ground

When the relationship between managers and employees or between co-workers is shaky, there is a greater chance for resentment to build and tension to present itself. Dr. David G. Javitch, writing for Entrepreneur, remarks that common ground can, “…become the foundation that enables you to bridge the gap that separates the parties involved.[3]” Common ground can be established through monthly group lunches, a collaborative work environment or any situation where individuals are brought together without a distinct work-related purpose.

Reward Open Dialogue With HR Staff or Managers

Finally, it is important for employees to feel encouraged to bring their concerns to human resources before they become significant. Rather than dismissing minor complaints, embrace this open dialogue and address the issues immediately.

These tips are all key ways that managers and supervisors can help to diffuse conflicts in the workplace before they ever even begin.


[1] http://smallbusiness.chron.com/techniques-diffuse-conflict-within-workplace-22007.html

[2] http://www.cio.com/article/688365/Workplace_Conflict_How_to_Diffuse_Battles_with_Co_Workers

[3] http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/207680