How do I handle conflict at work?

With a new year of work before us, it’s a great time to look ahead to the various challenges and opportunities we might face this year. So, I thought I’d share some advice for a challenge that we commonly face in the workplace – conflict, and how to deal with it in a professional manner.

Why you shouldn’t avoid conflict

Conflict in the workplace may arise for a variety of reasons, whether that’s personal differences between employees, conflicting working styles, pay discrepancies, or any other number of issues. When you’re in the midst of a potential conflict or you sense conflict arising between your team members, the important thing is to face it head-on.

Avoiding conflict can lead to the issue building up under the surface and becoming more of an issue than it needs to be. Resentment can develop between colleagues, resulting in an uncomfortable working environment. Facing the problem head-on results in conflict resolution, and you could come out of the other side of things with strengthened relationships and more efficient and harmonious working practices.

How to handle conflict

Here are some important pieces of advice for handling conflict in an effective and professional way.

Focus on communication

Effective communication is key to resolving workplace conflict. Anyone involved in the conflict must talk openly about their concerns and listen carefully to what the other person or people have to say. It is best to arrange a meeting with those involved so that issues are not aired publicly in front of everyone.

Encourage conflict resolution

If you’re in a leadership role, you need to make sure that your employees feel comfortable coming to you with the problems they are facing in the workplace. They shouldn’t feel like they have to hide conflict, so you should foster a culture of openness and honesty among your team.

Don’t make things personal

When airing a conflict, it is important that you focus on the event and behaviours that have led to this situation, rather than on personal matters or the personality of the other person. Bringing in personal matters can make the other party feel like they are being victimised. On the other side of things, try not to take things personally if someone brings up a conflict with you.


Conflict resolution often requires some compromise in order to satisfy both parties. Try to come to an amicable agreement so that everyone feels like their opinions have been heard and addressed. You don’t want tension to continue between the two parties after the conflict has been resolved.

So, next time conflict arises in your workplace, don’t shy away from it. Instead, embrace the conflict and the opportunities that it could offer your team.  Get in touch to find out how you can handle conflict more effectively.