Jenni Kantola ja Annika Tidström hymyilevät toisilleen

Trouble at the office? Ten tips on how to avoid and solve conflicts at the workplace

Has your boss stopped greeting? Are your colleagues making cutting remarks at meetings? Or maybe you are the one who keeps ignoring someone at coffee breaks? Here are ten tips from Professor Annika Tidström and University Lecturer Jenni Kantola.

1. Good management reduces conflicts. Unclear rules or duties cause trouble in a work community. Employees may find that the manager’s actions are non-existent, unfair or unclear.

2. Tackle conflicts without delay. Early interventions can prevent vicious circles. A manager who is too understanding or friendly and allows bad behaviour for too long is a strain on the work community. It is the manager’s responsibility to set the boundaries.

3. Good atmosphere at work is everyone’s responsibility. This means understanding that we all work differently, and you can get the same result in various ways. Good manners, consideration for others and a positive attitude are key traits.

4. Have an open discussion and listen. People need the opportunity to discuss their challenges and well-being at work. Sometimes you can resolve a conflict with just a chat during which the person feels heard and understood.

5. Think ahead and draw up clear guidelines. Everyone should know what to do and who to turn to in case of a conflict. With clear guidelines and practices, it is easier to address difficult issues.

6. Find common ground. The more you disagree, the more you should focus on what you agree on and talk about that – instead of things related to the conflict. You can usually find common ground when talking about hobbies, for example.

7. Seek solutions. When you want to resolve a conflict, you should not look for culprits or scapegoats, but for solutions. Small steps will take you toward a solution.

8. Listening is the best tool. Misinterpretations are the enemy of conflict resolution. Communication and especially listening are important. A good listener will ask questions and confirm what is being said.

9. Accept different opinions. You can avoid negative conflicts if you encourage the work community to accept diversity and different opinions and support creativity.

10. It is important to take responsibility. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself: do I want to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution?

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