Conflict at work, when not addressed, is awful. Our initial response is to ignore it. After all, if we ignore it, doesn’t it just go away (no, it doesn’t)?

Check out my top 8 tips on what you can do to address conflict when it comes up in the workplace. Remember conflict is only unhealthy when you don’t address it.

  1. Do not make assumptions. They are usually wrong and make the conflict worse. If you find yourself saying “I think the reason…” or “I bet they act this way because…you are about to make an assumption. Stop. Go talk to the person about the incident instead.
  2. The best way to resolve conflict is to listen. We all just want to be heard, and the most powerful action you can take to resolve conflict is to listen.
  3. Acknowledge the conflict. If you don’t acknowledge, it will only get worse. You can say “I understand why you would feel that way.” This doesn’t state you would agree, only that you recognize the person’s feelings.
  4. When initiating a conversation about conflict, make sure the other party is open to a conversation. State, “I would really like to talk to you about what’s going on. Could we set up a time to do that?”
  5. Avoid talking to other people about your conflict. This puts others in the middle of the conflict and can cause the issue to escalate even further.
  6. We are creatures of habit and tend to repeat the same unhelpful behaviors over and over when we are upset. Be aware of these behaviors so you can change your responses.
  7. Make sure to focus on behaviors, and not personality, when discussing conflict. One of the most powerful phrases you can say is “When (this) happens, I feel _____, because ____.”
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask a qualified, third party to help resolve if you can’t do it yourself. Sometimes this is the most effective way to find a middle ground between two parties.

Don’t waste your time or energy thinking about how you wish you didn’t have conflict. Instead, resolve it. The solution really is that simple.