Introduction:

Conflict in an office workplace is unavoidable. In fact, current research indicates that 85% of workers experience workplace conflict, of which 29% are constantly experiencing it.

Poor communication, competitiveness, and personality clashes are the most common causes and can become significant issues in a high-stress work environment. 

Most of the time two individuals involved in a conflict will resolve the issue themselves without too much hassle, but if there is a serious underlying problem, leaving them to sort it out is not the best approach. Getting involved as a mediator can often create a more effective solution so that the conflict does not persist and get out of control.

This checklist will guide you through each step of the conflict resolution process to ensure all conflicts are dealt with in the most efficient way possible, and a calm office environment is maintained.

Preparation:

Record basic details

Individual #1

Individual #2


Consider do's and don'ts

When taking on the task of resolving a conflict, there are certain attitudes and approaches that should be avoided and ones that have a proven track record of working effectively. 

Below are some key do's and don'ts to consider before assuming the responsibility of the mediator and tackling the conflict head-on. 

Do's

  • Acknowledge that conflicts are inevitable
  • Keep an open mind and be open to new solutions
  • Empathize with the individuals throughout the process
  • Actively listen to all perspectives
  • Encourage open communication
  • Meet with the antagonists together
  • Make sure all participants discuss and commit

Don'ts

  • Avoid the conflict, hoping it will go away on its own
  • Meet separately with the individuals in conflict
  • Believe that the antagonists are the only employees affected
  • Focus on personality traits
  • Interrupt or attack individuals during discussions
  • Allow emotions to lead the conversation
  • Impose your own personal values or beliefs

Schedule a meeting

The next step is to schedule a meeting with both individuals to better understand the conflict and begin resolving it.

Below is an email template you can send immediately to set up a time and date.

If you'd rather set up the meeting in person, visit each individual at their workstation, gather a few dates and times that work for them and select a time from there.  

Understanding:

Ask each participant to describe the conflict

The first thing to do in the meeting is ask each individual to describe the conflict. Note down their responses below. 

Individual #1 - {{form.Individual_#1_-_First_name}} {{form.Individual_#1_-_Last_name}}

Individual #2 - {{form.Individual_#2_-_First_name}} {{form.Individual_#2_-_Last_name}}

Identify the root cause

What is the root cause of the conflict? Select one or more reasons from the drop down below and write a brief description.

  • 1
    Poor communication
  • 2
    Personality clash
  • 3
    Competitiveness
  • 4
    Personal issues
  • 5
    Different values
  • 6
    Office romance
  • 7
    Other

If you are not sure what the root cause is, jot down a few ideas and it will likely become clearer as the discussion progresses.

Clarify the underlying problem

You may think that you answered this question in the previous task, however, the underlying problem differs from the root cause in that the latter is concerned with what started the conflict, while the former is concerned with why the conflict has not yet been resolved. 

In other words, why is the conflict so persistent? What key factor is preventing the two individuals from resolving the conflict themselves?

Clarifying the underlying problem will give you a much better idea of what needs to be said or done in order to effectively resolve the conflict. 

Empathize with both sides

As each participant describes the conflict from their own perspective, it's important that you make an active effort to empathize with both of them. 

Try to put yourself in their shoes and feel what they are going through.

Summarize the conflict

Before moving on to the process of resolving the conflict, write a brief summary of the conflict using the information you have gathered from both participants. 

Resolving:

Brainstorm solutions together

Once you feel like you have a solid understanding of the conflict and both parties are satisfied with the opportunity they've had to express their frustration, you can begin brainstorming solutions together

Make it clear to both individuals that you will not choose sides and that you expect the individuals to resolve the conflict proactively as adults. If they are unwilling to do so, you will be forced to take disciplinary action.

Rule out unworkable options

Once you have brainstormed potential solutions with the two individuals in conflict, there will inevitably be some options that realistically will not provide a long-term solution. 

Rule them out so you are left with a handful of options that can be agreed upon by both parties. 

Summarize all possible options

When you are left with a few options that both parties agree could settle the conflict, summarize them below.

Assign further analysis of options to each party

Let the antagonists discuss each option together to reach a compromise and clarify specific action items for each other.

This is where the resolution will really come together. 

Make sure all parties agree on next steps

In the form fields below, clarify next steps/action items for each individual and make sure everyone, including you, is in agreement with how things are moving forward. 

Individual #1 - {{form.Individual_#1_-_First_name}} {{form.Individual_#1_-_Last_name}}

Individual #2 - {{form.Individual_#2_-_First_name}} {{form.Individual_#2_-_Last_name}}

Depending on the seriousness of the conflict, you may want to have each party sign a contract stating they will abide by the rules of the conflict resolution.

Agree on a date to review progress

Close the meeting with reconciliation

End the meeting with a sense of positivity and progress. Both individuals should be clear about their commitment to delivering on what is expected of them and not causing any more unnecessary conflict in the future. 

Sources:

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