Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Successfully (And Safely) Resolving Office Conflicts

Though you may feel like resorting to physical measures when a problem arises at work, office conflicts must be resolved in a professional manner in order to protect the careers of everyone involved. Inter-office issues can make going to work each day a drag, so make it a point to find a solution before the situation gets blown way out of proportion. Here are some tips for safely and successfully resolving an office conflict:

Get to the root of a conflict

Just like a fight with a significant other or a family member, office conflicts are often not about the issue that seems to have caused the whole incident. You may think you’re fighting about who fails to refill the coffee pot in the break room, when really you’re arguing over a division of labor at work. If you find yourself engaged in battle over a seemingly trivial matter, take a step back and think about if there’s a larger issue coming into play.

Don’t get passive aggressive

Office conflicts tend to escalate when employees take passive aggressive measures to express themselves. Instead of writing a note that says that the pigs you work with need to clean the fridge, find a more diplomatic and upfront way to voice the concerns at hand. Can you send an e-mail explaining why it’s a problem when people continuously leave their moldy food in the fridge? Can you try having a face-to-face conversation with the primary offenders? Treating others with respect as you voice a concern is a key part of preventing a disagreement from escalating into a major in-office war.

Think about how your actions look to others

Again, being passive aggressive or cheeky may feel better than having a hard conversation with a colleague, but this behavior often does more damage in the long run. While you think you’re being cute by writing notes all over the office about cleaning up after yourself, turning the lights off, and keeping the door shut, others may find this behavior degrading or insulting. Think about how your actions may appear to others. If there’s a chance that your words or behavior could be misconstrued, try approaching the situation in a more direct way.

Don’t be a tattletale

There are few things more annoying than a colleague who must run to the higher-ups whenever an issue occurs. Make sure that you’re not this person when an office conflict arises. Do you really need to tell your manager if your co-worker is blasting music loudly in their cube? Probably not. It’s likely that you could take up the issue with the co-worker on your own, without a manager involved. The individual will probably appreciate you being direct with them instead of making the situation into a bigger deal than it needs to be. However, with that said, if it becomes clear that the issue isn’t getting better, don’t be afraid to bring in additional assistance.

Regardless of the type of office in which you work, conflict is inevitable. To keep small issues from escalating quickly, use a direct, non-threatening approach with your co-workers.

How do you minimize conflict in your office? 

Lauren Levine

Lauren Levine is a copywriter/blogger who contributes to a number of magazines and websites including The Frisky, USA Today, and others. She also authors her own blog called Life with Lauren. She loves cooking, anything on the E! network, and is trying to convince herself that running isn't so bad.