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Resolving Conflict In The Workplace

Do you have two staff members that don’t get along?

Is it causing issues in your business?

Do you dread going into work because they clash and you just don’t know how to deal with it?

It’s the worst isn’t it.  Where you feel  like your business has been taken hostage by these people who make your work place feel miserable.

Worse still, other people whether it be other staff and/or customers can detect this negativity and it has a ripple effect on the entire business.  Not only costing you current business but also costing you in repeat and referral customers also.

It’s not ok and you don’t have to put up with it.  But, what do you do about it?

Well, this is a situation I have helped many clients over come and so I wanted to share with you a 6 step process you can follow right now to address and over come this situation.

1.  Start by gaining clarity of purpose:  Why does this business exist?

Hold a private and uninterruptible meeting with both team members (Let’s say, Person A and Person B) and ask them, why do they think this business exists?  What problem does it solve for your clients/customers?   When they answer, then ask them, and for what purpose would the client/customer want/need help with that?  What would happen if they didn’t get that help? 

(Essentially, in this first step, you’re looking for them to get on the same page, to agree that the business performs a service or provides a product that solves a problem for your customers.  Move to step 2 only when you have agreement on the reason the business exists)

2.   Set up the Communication Dynamic. 

Assign Person A and B respectively, explaining that you’re going to invite them to see the situation from a different angle. 

(If it’s a highly emotional conflict then you can introduce Person C – who is observing this situation. Adding another chair here helps them use their imagination.  So we ask Person B to take the position of Person C – “Imagine, you are the observer in this situation”, and ask them to listen and observe whilst Person A is talking to Person B (no one in that chair))

If you think it can be managed person to person, then there’s no need to introduce Person C.

3.   Address the problem using “I Feel Statements”

Ask Person A to state their situation, in the frame work of “I FEEL ….. when you …….” Telling Person B exactly how they feel when Person B behaves in a way that’s causing the conflict.

Person A must be given the time to state exactly how they feel and be heard, with no interruptions.  Once they’ve expressed all they need to express, then ask Person B to validate them by saying “Thank you for sharing, I have heard what you have said”

Then reverse the roles, and have Person B state their situation in the same framework.

This is to be done in a calm and quiet environment, where you cannot be interrupted.  Each individual must own their feelings and there is to be NO ‘You did this’ or any other attacking language.  It’s simply, “This is how I feel when you……” 

It’s up to you as the leader to manage this, if tension starts to elevate, then you must take control and calm the situation down again by revisiting the purpose of the business. (Step 1)

4.   Once both parties have stated their case, then the next step is to ask them to think bigger:


What is the desired outcome for the customer or for the business?

How does each of their roles contribute to that out come? 

What is the purpose of their role? 

Why is what they do in the business so important?

Help them see why the other is so passionate about their view point.   They don’t have to agree with each other, what you’re looking for here is for them to gain a little more insight or understanding of the other perspective.

5.   Look for ways that they can begin to move forward in a peaceful manner.   

During this conversation, you should start to notice opportunities where they can make slight changes in what and how they do their role, that can help or support the other.  If they don’t start noticing these themselves, then start to hint by asking questions. Eg “So Person A, could you do that in a different way that could remove that Problem for Person B” etc.

6.  Document the agreed action changes and have them both sign it…..

As they are discussing, be sure to make a note of what they are agreeing to.  At the conclusion of the conversation, you can conclude with a summary of what they’ve agreed upon.  Once they agree with your summary, you can have them sign that they agree with the actions moving forward.

7.   Acknowledge both of them.

Given that this process has been successful and there is a clear outcome of what is to happen next, then take the time to acknowledge both of them for the behaviour that you’ve observed that you admire.  Remember, like children, reward and acknowledge the behaviour you want to see more of.  So the more you make them feel positive about that collaborative behaviour, the more likely you will see more if it in the future.

Good luck… I’d love to hear how it goes for you.  If you’d like to talk to me further about your specific situation with the staff challenges that you are having right now, book a FREE 20-30 Min conversation, where I can give you some practical help on what you need to do to remedy the situation that is currently affecting you…

Book a FREE 20 min call to get your staff back on track.

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