How to solve conflict situations at work

Everyone has problematic or conflict situations at work and do not always know how to solve them without exacerbating. I would like to share my approach.

Physically get out of conflict

First of all, if you are in the center of the conflict and you are captured by emotions – get out of the situation physically as fast as you can, otherwise you run the risk of saying too much. Say sorry, that you are captured by emotions and you cannot rationally think, that you will be able to continue the conversation a little later, and now you have to gather your thoughts. This will give you some time to analyze the situation.

Analyze the situation

Try to understand – what is the problem? Does the current situation affect the work and what will happen if you won’t solve the problem? This will give you a goal, with such a goal it’s much easier to think logically and without emotions.

Best think with facts: why the current situation is a problem for you, as well as why it can be a problem for your opponent?

Think of his/her point of view. Has a person always behaved this way? If a problem or conflict is unexpected for you – maybe something caused the person to switch to such a behaviour, what could it be?

In human behavior there is always a positive intention and people always try to act in the best of the available ways – try to understand your colleague.

Organize a meeting

The sooner you extinguish the conflict, the less invented emotions will interfere with this, so do not waste your time and invite the person to talk, ask when it is convenient for him/her. If your colleague is busy or not feeling well, it will be hard for him/her to communicate calmly with you, it’s better to reschedule such a meeting.

It is best to meet in person – this will allow you to clearly monitor the state of the interlocutor and not to think up negative emotions, as is often the case in communication through instant messengers or E-mail. If it’s impossible to meet in person, arrange a call, preferably with a video.

In a meeting

Start with the words “See what the situation is” and tell the facts why what is happening is a problem. Be sure to make pauses so that person could really hear you.

Your interlocutor must agree with your arguments, otherwise the further discussion does not have meaning. Perhaps a person sincerely believes that there is no problem.

If you don’t manage to explain your point of view – exit the discussion with the words “I can’t explain it now, I’ll think it over and get back to you.”

If the person rolls out his/her pains in return – that’s great! Listen to everything, simultaneously lead to specifics and facts, offer solutions. Only after that it will be possible to return to the initial problem.

After your colleague recognizes the problem go to the solution. Best if solution will be suggested by the interlocutor, so ask what solution he/she sees. If the decision doesn’t suit you, ask the leading questions “How would we …? ” and “What if …?”.

After the meeting

When you see that the problem is solved and the situation has changed – be sure to give a positive feedback, otherwise the person will have a feeling that all this was not so important.

If arrangements are violated – call a colleague for a short conversation, ask “What has happened? We had an agreement!” Perhaps the agreement was simply forgotten or maybe your solution has stopped working – then you need to develop a new one with the same approach.

Case study

Recently, my manager came to me and said that one of my colleagues complained about me. I immediately made an appointment with this colleague and asked how I can help? When we sorted out the question of a person, I explained my problem that the applied escalation path was not that good: it took time, involved unnecessary people and hardly put me in a good light in the eyes of my supervisor. When my interlocutor admitted that the applied path was ineffective, we agreed that the next time, if there is a problem, he comes to me directly, and if it does not work out for him, then he goes to my supervisor. Since then, our relationship has become extremely productive.


  • Physically get out of conflict if you are overwhelmed with emotions
  • Analyze opponent’s point of view
  • Hold a face-to-face meeting
  • Talk facts, not emotions
  • Go to the solution only after admitting the problem
  • Give positive feedback

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