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Start-Ups

Dealing with Office Confrontations

By Barbara Beauregard   |    October 1, 2015   |    9:31 AM

It's inevitable that a couple of your employees might occasionally disagree with each other or with you, their boss. Here's how to manage these situation and prevent them from creating a toxic work environment.

Firstly, no matter the situation and whether it involves you or not, you must always deal with office disagreements in a cool manner. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in the heat of the moment, especially since if you go out of control you will give those fighting an edge to get what they want. Do not confront the parties involved but calm them down first and encourage them to take some time to cool off. Don’t pester those who have been arguing as they may need time. Sometimes people prefer not to talk after an argument and require time alone to process their frustration.

Once the parties have settled down, it may well be necessary meet to discuss the matter like adults so that conflicts do not arise again on the same subject at your small business. So as to avoid the conversation becoming another argument, make sure that the discussion takes place without any verbal attacks, the use of bad language or constant criticism.

Listen to what people have to say and value their opinion. If people are sharing their thoughts and feelings, do not interrupt them. If you or someone else is allowed to cut them off and say 'you are wrong, my ideas are right' it can cause more problems because the person will feel hurt as if no one is listening to them. This can lead to resentment. Instead of blurting out what you think you may want to process your thoughts first. You may need to mediate or have other staff at your small business mediate between those arguing. Ensure that these people are not overly biased as otherwise you may find yourself creating more conflict rather than resolving it.

Acknowledge that people have differences of opinions and that disagreements are part of life. Remind your staff that no one can agree with someone else all the time. Be open to differences of opinion, highlight that it is better that someone express their thoughts rather than bottle them up. Office life should be about dialogue and communication, however it may sometimes need to be channeled in positive directions.

When you sit employees down to discuss things calmly or if you sit down to talk to someone who has been picking a fight with you, try to arrive at a solution where everyone feels somewhat satisfied. Define acceptable behaviour beforehand and that which will not be tolerated. Face-to-face private meetings behind closed doors are best for resolving disputes and conflicts. Make sure that you stay focused on the issues and that these are discussed in a constructive manner. Do not side track into personal attacks. Suggest corrective actions or have your employees come up with creative solutions that they feel would ensure future problems do not take place. Remind employees that this may require comprise. Office confrontations are not a laughing matter, make sure they are dealt with in a timely manner as small issues can lead to bigger issues if not resolved promptly.