Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Three key focus strategies to resolving a workplace conflict

A workplace is like a delicately balanced ecosystem. Most of the time, all individuals work in harmony with each other. However, when you throw a group of people with differing personalities, unique ideas and separate expectations into an office together, conflict is bound to arise eventually. In the face of such a clash, it’s important to refrain from doing anything that exacerbates the problem—which could ultimately result in mediation or even litigation.

Today we present three essential ways to focus your attention in order to effectively smooth over conflict in the workplace:

Focus on the issue. If you need to talk to a coworker about a problem they have caused, they will become less defensive if you don’t accuse them directly. Opt for using impersonal, passive language. Rather than saying, “you consistently committed XYZ,” say “we should examine why XYZ keeps happening.”

Focus on the positive. This can mean just what it sounds like—finding a positive aspect of the business relationship or project to connect you to the other person. It can also mean something as simple and undervalued as displaying empathy towards the other person. Finding a positive way to relate to the other person is a great way to calm a tense situation.

Focus on the other person’s message. For most of us, when we’re in a dispute—especially if we’re upset—it seems to shut down our auditory system. We stop listening to the person with whom we’re engaging. Instead, we use the time the other person is talking to formulate our retort. If the other person doesn’t feel they’re being heard, they’re likely to become angry themselves. One of the best ways to diffuse someone else’s anger is to listen to them.

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