Colleagues mad at each otherDid you know that in 2008, U.S. employees were involved in conflicts an average of 2.8 hours each week? According to CPP Global’s Human Capital Report of that year, this amounted to $359 billion in paid hours based on the average hourly rate at that time. Although the latest data on workplace conflict is not available, you can glean from past information how much office disputes affect companies financially.

The tension that arises from conflict may also affect employees’ productivity. Companies such as Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution, Inc. emphasize the fact that when disputes arise, professional relationships may become unstable or end. Workplace conflict experts recommend the following ways in dealing with office disputes effectively and professionally.

Determine Your Role in the Problem

It is rare for workplace conflict to be 100 percent caused by one party. Be honest with yourself; decide what your proper response should be. If you’re not directly involved, you can act as the impartial party that can encourage conflicting sides to work out their problems.

Talk Less, Listen More

In resolving conflict, it’s important to understand what either party’s issues are. Listen to gain their perspectives, instead of pushing what you think may be right by talking over them. Taking the effort to understand the root of the problem will work for everyone in the long run because you resolve the main issue instead of dealing only with its symptoms.

Find a Middle Ground

Once you determine the real issue, you may start thinking about possible solutions. All relevant parties should be involved in this process. Get suggestions from those entirely outside the conflict as well, for a unique or fresh take on solving it. Find a solution that all involved parties can agree with or one that has the most benefits for everyone.

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Finally, once you have settled the crisis, focus on creating a low-conflict workplace environment. Workplace conflicts are a messy affair, so it’s an excellent practice to foster open communication to prevent future problems.

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