Managing Conflict at Work

Word-Cloud--Conflict-ManagemeOnce conflict gets its feet under the table it can take on a life of it’s own and become increasingly self-perpetuating over time. Anything negative about another person can be amplified and used to justify an opposing stance and positivity and optimism stand little chance when arguing. In addition, flexibility and compromise become stifled as they are seen as weakness and likely to undermine an argument.

In the midst of such tension what can be done in order to break the cycle of negativity, provide mediation and offer resolution? How can an environment for balanced reason, where compromise can be developed, be established? Ultimately this is an issue of leadership as the effectiveness of staff, and the performance of the company are at stake – so the impetus has to be provided from the top down.


Core values come from the top and go to the heart of what makes the corporate body tick. All employees therefore, from the boardroom down, need to have these values ingrained into their personal work culture – and this includes the absolute need for an esprit de corps running through the whole company. The senior executives in particular need to live and breathe these values so setting the standard for behaviour. Once this beacon is lit no individual or group within the company can be left in any doubt as to what is expected.


If management chooses to mediate (be it directly or by bringing in outside support) it can send out a very clear and positive message. Trying to impose a resolution is no solution at all but merely suppression. In mediation the parties concerned are involved in a dialogue, at first either individually or together, regarding the creation of an environment for understanding. The discussion will outline the shared benefits of harmony for the company and for their individual happiness and fulfilment at work. The parties have to ask themselves, which is more important, victory or resolution? Once it is agreed that ‘victory’ is not only unattainable but also damaging, and that continued strife is unacceptable, how do they wish to participate in what happens next?


Have the parties talk about how the situation makes them feel and how they react to those emotions? Looking at themselves, what could each one do to improve their attitude in the circumstances be it their actions or their reactions? At the appropriate time have both parties explain their point of view to one another including how the situation and the actions of the other person makes them feel. Have them set out how a better environment would benefit them personally, the colleague in question, and for the business that employs them both.

Mediating a resolution to a conflict is about understanding from all sides: what we do; how we react; and the effects of our actions, whether or not we regard ourselves as the victim. Mediation is about understanding our real needs, those of our colleagues and of the company as a whole. It is about abandoning the trenches and stepping into the middle ground where issues can be observed, discussed and where understanding can go to work.

Alan Keyse is a qualified business and Life coach and specializes in coaching Emotional Intelligence to business owners, executives, managers and their teams – throughout London – on a 1-2-1 or group basis.

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Tel: 07583 618 284

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