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October 7, 2016

Making Workplace Conflict Work for Your Team

Communication

Jeff Cochran

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Workplace conflicts arise often. It’s important to know how to handle them and to recognize the opportunities within them. It’s easy to work past a conflict and then pretend nothing ever happened, but you may be missing valuable opportunities to fine tune your employees’ communication skills and grow your business.

Identify the Conflict

First, you need to know the source of the disruption. Workplace conflicts happen between employees and their superiors, between coworkers, and between employees and customers. The final type requires the most careful attention: you need to be able to defuse a conflict without alienating anyone. One of the golden rules of salesmanship is that it’s okay to lose a sale but not a customer.

Gain an understanding of the situation – often you’ll find that you can defuse a conflict easily if it arose from miscommunication or a small discrepancy.

Pinpoint the Cause

In the sales industry, conflicts arise most often from miscommunication. The wording of a return policy or product specification is ambiguous, an employee misspoke, or something else was lost in translation. It’s important to recognize what type of conflict is happening, but it’s more important to acknowledge why it happened.

When customers complain, they can sometimes pinpoint issues within your business you may have overlooked. Although this is frustrating, ultimately these situations are good things for both the company and its customers. Once you identify the source of a conflict, you can remedy the situation so the customer leaves happy and willing to return, and then you can address the underlying issue to prevent future occurrences.

Ask for Solutions

When two parties butt heads, one of your first steps to resolving the issue should be to ask each party what they want to see happen. When it comes to arguments or disagreements between employees, sitting down with the employees involved can uncover issues you may have overlooked, and then everyone benefits from mediation.

When you’re dealing with customer conflicts, you’ll typically need to make up for their frustrations in some way. This may come in the form of an extra coupon for a future visit, a one-time discount to make up for their lost time, or another similar measure. It’s important to stand your ground in the face of unreasonable customers, but do so respectfully. Even the most grating and disrespectful customers can be boons to your business if you know how to approach them.

Work Toward a Resolution

Once you’ve identified what’s happening, who is involved, and what each party wants to see happen, you can work toward resolving the conflict. Every situation is different, so you’ll have to use your judgment to determine the best course of action. Once you do, make clear each party’s responsibilities going forward.

Workplace conflicts happen all the time in every industry. It’s important that you approach them with a clear head and calm demeanor. Sometimes you’ll solve more than just the immediate problem, and fix a newly discovered issue you never knew you had.
Sources:
http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/The-Five-Steps-to-Conflict-Resolution.aspx

6 Steps to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace


http://www.learningpeace.com/pages/LP_04.htm
http://www.mediate.com/articles/bermanlj3.cfm
http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/BUS208-5.3.6-Steps-to-Resolve-Workplace-Conflict-FINAL.pdf

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