How to resolve Conflict in the Office.

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Friction can sometimes be a positive thing, resulting in action and impetus – creating an environment that is dynamic and changeable.  For certain industries this type of working environment might be the preferred choice, but there is a fine line between dynamism and harmony and although a successful company will need a mix of personalities and inherent skills, a clash of personalities in the office can also be distracting and unproductive.

Whilst it isn’t uncommon for there to be clashes in the office, it’s obviously important that any issues are resolved and don’t fester and create bigger issues as time goes on.  Have a look at some quick tips on Office Resolution below:

Involve others – depending how many people and the personalities involved, it can be a good idea to bring in someone with authority to mediate, the Managing Director for example, as long as they aren’t involved in the dispute! A mediator without authority can also work, although it would make sense for this individual to be a totally independent 3rd party.



Goal Setting – It’s important at the outset to explain the possible outcomes to all parties so everyone understands what the possible consequences are before the process begins. These scenarios might be that the matter is resolved satisfactorily for all parties, a decision will be made in favour of one and not the other and in extreme cases someone may have to leave if their grievances cannot be resolved.

The seriousness of this last point will often result in a far greater degree of flexibility from those concerned and willingness for a greater degree of compromise.

What are the issues – it is personal, is it about power, points of view or differences of opinion?

The initial stage is to identify exactly what the issues are for each party.  Spending time asking questions and fully understanding the problems will enable the mediator to explain to each party what the other’s point of view is. This approach enables the emotional aspect of conflicts to remain separate and instead the crux of the problem is addressed separately with each party.

If there is optimism or hope that the issues can indeed be solved then the next step would be to arrange another face to face meeting with the mediator. This is a high risk strategy and there are no guarantees of success but if there is any hope of resolution this process will be a necessary step. The hope is that all parties have an idea as to what the solution will be at this point, it has been discussed separately and agreed in principle, now it just has to be agreed by all parties at the same time!

Don’t Push Me – It’s not always possible to reach a compromise, not all parties are going to realistic with their expectations and some staff might just be downright obstinate! If it isn’t possible to reach an agreement for all parties then you’ll have absolutely no choice but to decide between making a decision that is going to anger or upset one party, possible both or if choices are extremely limited then you will have to fire someone.

There are of course legal considerations here but there’s no use in threatening a course of action only to back down when the time comes to act. You run a very real risk that this type of behaviour will become accepted and more prevalent if you fail to act as promised.

Staff need to understand that feuding can have dire consequences and compromise should always be the first option, as if needed, you will not back down.


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