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Take Steps to Resolve Conflict at Work by “Unhooking”

The experience of feeling caught in an emotionally distressing situation at work is referred to as being “hooked.” To unhook from difficult personalities and conflicts on the job, train employees how to resolve conflicts on their own. Conflict resolution videos can be very valuable in this endeavor, providing clear “how to” steps to resolve conflict, and realistic behaviors to model (or avoid!).communicationskills

The workplace can be a volatile environment – tight deadlines, project failures, uncertain revenues – alongside coworkers with a mix of personalities, so it’s no surprise that sometimes people rub each other the wrong way. Although it’s usually unintentional, emotional, erratic or unprofessional behavior can disrupt your workflow and “suck you in” to a conflict before you know it. It’s important to take steps to resolve conflict before it interferes with your productivity.

One method of unhooking from conflicts at work is described below. The first step is to unhook physically from the problem. It’s a fact that when you are angry or upset, physical activity can often help you calm down and see the situation more objectively. It may be impractical in the middle of a conflict to head to the gym for an hour, but you can do small things to calm yourself physically: take a walk in the hallway, take some deep breaths, step outside for a minute or go get a cold drink of water.

The second step is to unhook mentally. To unhook mentally, we examine the situation to understand how it occurred, and think about how we can change our behavior. You may or may not be able to change the other person, but you can at least change your approach to the situation. Ask yourself some questions to help you objectively analyze the situation, like: What are the facts here? What is his/her part, and what is MY part in this conflict? What are my options for handling this? What outcome am I looking for here and what are the potential consequences of my various options?

The last step is to unhook verbally, by discussing the situation with the other party. Choose your language carefully by thinking about what to say to resolve the conflict, not perpetuate it. Try to use “I” statements to reduce potential defensiveness in the other party (“I feel ‘x’… when ‘y’…because ‘z’….so I’d like ‘abc’…”). When setting a new boundary with someone or suggesting a new way of doing things, state it clearly, without anger, in as few words as possible. Use positive, inclusive language and be sure to also listen respectfully to their ideas.

You may need to practice a few times before you are comfortable confronting difficult workplace situations, but these steps will help you begin to unhook from the workplace situations that are making your work-life less than the wonderful experience it can be.

Conflict resolution videos like Working With You is Killing Me can offer employees practical steps to resolve conflict. This video shows how to address disruptive behavior, set boundaries and improve interpersonal relationships at work.

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