Techniques To Resolve Workplace Conflicts

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Have you ever faced such situations where two of your subordinates indulged in infighting on most of the matter? Whether taking the work or discussing any important stuff, they always pointed out each other’s mistakes and do not hesitate to complain you on every occasions. And when those resources are vital to the project then those situations can double your worries, isn’t it?

Workplace conflicts are common and inevitable as each employee has their own attitude, ideas, and style of working. So while working together often their differences clashes and when that goes beyond the tolerance limit the conflict erupts.

Conflicts may arise between team members, across the departments, and even with the client. But when it goes unaddressed, then it can have major negative impact on the productivity. A timely resolution of conflicts with proper techniques can douse the burning flame as well as improve your team’s productivity towards reaching the project goals.

Conflicts can arise for many reasons, whether it is individual personality clashes or chaotic work schedules. So, before moving to the various conflict resolution techniques, let’s check out the sources of conflict without any particular order.

Sources of Conflict

Work Schedules: when people work in tight work schedules to catch a highly ambitious deadline, it is often seen that the chaotic environment triggers conflicts in order get their work done on a priority basis. And if they need to share some of the resources (software and hardware) to complete their task, then the chances of conflicts is very high.

Changes in Organisational Policy

There are many cases where the management may have to take some bold decisions in the interest of the organization which may not be employee friendly at the first place. Often, those new policies or guidelines creates resentment among some employees and that may lead to confrontations of organizational needs vs. personal needs.


Every individual has their own personality, unique ideas, and different working styles, but when they try to impose their own views on another, the chances of conflicts increases. Also, office politics, gossip, and rumors are the other ingredients which can act as fuel to the fire.

Disputes Over Ideas and Suggestions

Most often you have seen that there are some team members who are always in disagreement with others. Actually, they want to impose their ideas upon others to prove their mantle. And when that person gets the unjustified support from the manager or supervisor, then resentment creates among other team members which trigger the conflict in the work environment.

Apart from these, there are other external factors such as improper communications, bias decisions, misunderstandings, gender bias, competitive market conditions, cost cutting measures, economic recessions etc can also have impacts on triggering conflicts in the organizations.

Conflicts are not bad things always if it is managed properly, the differences in ideas can boost the creativity and lead to better decision making. The manager should have the required skills and techniques to deal with the conflicts at the right time. It is essential to judge whether the team can resolve the conflict by themselves or interference is required, and if it is required then when to address it. That decision is very important.

Let’s discuss the various conflict resolution techniques, which are also suggested in PMBOK.

Conflict Resolutions Techniques

Retreating or Avoiding

At some scenarios, when the issues are trivial or you are sailing in a rough weather with unfavorable conditions or you are not prepared to deal with that, then it is better to take the back seat and let the conflict resolved by others.

This strategy may have negative impacts if you keep delaying or ignoring the conflicts for a longer time. It also sends messages to the team that you may be supporting the conflicting situations which can increase the resentment of other members. It may give a signal that you are losing your ground.

Smoothing or Accommodating

This is a technique to compromising one’s position to the needs of others intends to maintain peace and harmony. The focus is on the area of agreement rather than the areas of difference. It can provide you a short-term relief from the conflict and also allows you to buy time till you are in better position to take the action. It also gives you a chance to re-evaluate the situation from a different perspective.

Compromising or Reconciling

You may have experienced that in some situations for the sake of the project goal, you are agreed to both the parties to give them some degree of satisfactions. Though it is a partial resolution of the issues but helpful to lower the intensity of the conflict to some extent, which can be dealt at a later stage using other techniques to achieve a win-win solution.

Collaborating or Problem Solving

This is one of the best techniques which is the resultant of the win-win solution to the problem and provides the most satisfying resolution to others. It suggests integration of all the ideas set out by both the parties and find out a creative solution which is acceptable to all.

Collaborating this technique helps to solve the actual problem and strengthen mutual trust and respect. But, it is a time-consuming exercise to reach the mutually acceptable solution. So, may not work when the situation demands a quick resolution. You may need to use other methods.

Forcing or Competing

This technique provides a win-lose solution as you are taking one’s opinion at the cost of others. It is an autocratic approach, where you firmly resist the others views and take only one’s viewpoint.

In emergency situations when you need a quick resolution, this technique can be helpful. But it may adversely affect the relationship as well as the working environment.

Conflicts should be addressed with the above technique at an early stage before it goes out of control.It should be addressed in private, directly with that person without including any third person. But, if the conflicts exist even after correct measures and if that is hampering the interest of the project, then do not hesitate to take the disciplinary actions when required.

Updated on 21-Jan-2020 07:37:38