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Updated: May 13, 2024 Advice

101: How to handle workplace conflict

You spend eight hours a day, five days a week, at your job surrounded by co-workers, supervisors, and clients. Conflicts are bound to happen. Learning to deescalate negative situations when they arise and remove yourself from workplace drama will make your office a more productive and peaceful place. Speaking up, maintaining boundaries, and active listening are all effective tools you can use.

Speak up in the moment. Although it can be hard, letting your perspective be known the moment something happens can prevent resentment from festering. Office conflicts that are more complex should be carefully documented with human resources. However, sometimes a clear-cut conversation letting someone know where you stand on an issue can help to resolve the problem. If you decide to speak up for yourself amid a workplace conflict, focus on sticking to the facts. “Keep it factual, keep it short, and keep it as kind as possible,” Diana Opong, Janet W. Lee, and Connie Hanzhang Jin write for

Build strong boundaries. When resolving conflict, go directly to the person you have a problem with and talk it out. You can emphasize you want to maintain a healthy working relationship. This requires each side to be open about their needs and expectations. If this discussion turns into personal attacks and toxic behavior, it is important to have boundaries to protect yourself, Liesbeth van der Linden writes for Forbes. A third-party mediator may be helpful.

Actively listen to the other side. When trying to resolve a workplace conflict, try to think logically and not emotionally. Actively listen to what the other person is saying. Target the problem, not the person, Amanda Ripley advises in a story from Harvard Business Review. You want to find common ground and a way both parties can move forward.

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