If you are a new manager or have worked as a supervisor in some capacity for years, one of the tasks you are faced with is conflict management. Learning how to handle conflict at work takes time, but it becomes an invaluable tool that makes mitigating unpleasant work situations easier. To help you hone your conflict management skills, review the following tips.

Remain Calm

It’s easy to get frustrated and angry when employees get into tiffs, spats, and arguments at work. Your workplace is supposed to be a professional environment, so anyone who behaves unprofessionally can affect said environment’s vibe. As easy as it often is to have an extreme reaction to a workplace conflict, it is your job as a manager or other business leader to remain calm. Take a few deep breaths to relax your mind and body, then ask the employees in conflict to refrain from continuing the argument in front of their peers.

Work conflicts do not have to be “big and loud” to warrant calm reactions. No matter how or why the incident occurs, remember that you are there to be an example to everyone else and behave in a professional manner. Your colleagues and team members will admire your self-control and be more likely to follow your example.

Organize a Private Meeting

After diffusing the conflict, the next step is usually to discuss the issue privately. An unused meeting or conference room provides a private setting, as does your office, assuming you do not share it with anyone. You do not want employees hashing out the problem with their peers watching, because it is more than unprofessional. It is also distracting since employees in conflict present a “show” of sorts that prevents other team members from doing their work. To maintain a professional atmosphere and ensure employees get on with their work, ask the team members in conflict to meet you privately for a discussion.

Refrain From Taking Sides

It can be easy to subconsciously or consciously take sides when hearing about an employee conflict, especially if you prefer one worker to the other. However, it is essential to remain neutral and hear both individuals tell their sides. If you cannot stay objective for any reason, have another manager deal with the issue. Learning how to handle conflict at work is just as much about knowing when to step back as when to intervene.

When listening to each employee tell their side of the story, remember to engage in active listening. Mute your devices and give your complete attention to the person talking. Once everyone has said what they want to say, ask questions such as “What can we do to resolve this? How about [x idea]  or [y idea]? If the issue requires further resolution, consider contacting your HR department, if applicable. You can also hire a professional mediator to come in, learn about the conflict, and devise solutions.

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