How to deal with workplace conflicts

Workplace conflicts are a problem that everybody faces at one point or another. So, what do you do when there’s someone at work that you just cannot see eye to eye with?

Conflicts and disagreements in the workplace can lead to frustration, anger, and even arguments. Having disagreements at work is not good for the atmosphere, nor for productivity. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you overcome any workplace conflicts that may arise, depending on who you’re dealing with.



When you’re experiencing issues with somebody ‘higher up’ than you, it can be difficult to know how to behave in order to diffuse the situation. Unfortunately, most of us would rather keep quiet and carry on for fear of biting the hand that feeds, so to speak. However, this won’t resolve anything.

Always remember that your supervisor/boss is only a person too. They’re likely to have a lot on their plate and this can sometimes lead to over-delegation or a stressed atmosphere. It can be easy to become frustrated and focus solely on yourself, but sometimes looking at the bigger picture can you give you more perspective into why people behave a certain way.

Whatever the issue is, the best thing to do is to speak to them openly and in a calm manner. Explain your thoughts concisely and without becoming emotional or anxious. It’s important to communicate tactfully, and to not react badly if the response is not what you wanted to hear. You can say the same thing in two different ways and get two totally different responses, so it’s up to you to make sure you express yourself in the best manner.

By being empathetic and offering genuine compromises instead of complaining or becoming irritated, you’ll be more likely to reach a pleasant solution.



Having problems with peers can sometimes be worse than disagreements with management. These are the people you see and work with on a close basis every day.

If you feel like there is any tension between you and a colleague, take them aside and speak to them privately. This gives them the opportunity speak to you and resolve any issues that may exist. Don’t be accusatory. Instead, express your concerns calmly and listen to what is said in return. Even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you wanted, make sure to end the conversation in a friendly, professional manner.

Remember, some people can feel intimidated, competitive or insecure in the workplace. These emotions can often lead to poor work conduct. Even if you choose to address any issues directly, you may not always get a direct answer because it can be difficult to admit feeling these kinds of emotions.

You might also like:  How to Handle Negative Feedback from Your Boss

If talking to them doesn’t change anything, you can take the problem to your supervisor and discuss it with them. Don’t ignore it if you feel like it is affecting your work, or the general atmosphere of the office.

workplace conflict


When dealing with staff under your management, it’s important to be completely unbiased and professional.

If someone is disrupting work flow, not focusing on their work or simply creating problems then, as a senior figure, you should take them aside without drawing too much attention to yourselves. Nobody likes a supervisor who flaunts their superiority.

Rather than focusing on employees/team members personally, focus on the problem. What sounds better? “Your numbers this month have been terrible, you’re no good at this at all!” -or- “Sales have been a bit lower than usual this month, have there been any issues lately?”

By speaking to employees as people rather than your inferiors, you’re much more likely to get a positive response out of them. Address the issue in a non-threatening manner. Try to find the root of the problem, and come to a resolution.

You have to be prepared for all possible responses, from anger to tears. What makes a manager or supervisor a good one is their ability to show compassion and support. By being calm and trying to address any issues directly, rather than becoming agitated, you’re more likely to reach a suitable compromise for everyone.



“Praise in public. Criticise in private.” – This is sound advice when you’re dealing with an individual performance, but isn’t quite as applicable it comes to team performance.

Dealing with an underperforming team member in private shifts the accountability from the other team members to you, which can negatively impact the team’s ability to manage itself.

Good leaders deal with ineffective team members in front of the rest of the team – after all, that’s where the accountability should be. This is where information is and where solutions are more likely to be found.


Regardless of the position of the person you are in disagreement with, you must always be willing to listen to other side. Be open to the possibility that you may wrong (sometimes you might not realise it until someone points it out to you!) and never assume you know what the other person is thinking. Ask them to explain their points of view and discuss these with them so that they are more willing to see your side of the story.


Did you find these tips useful for dealing with workplace conflicts? Do you have any tips that have helped you before?


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