Arguments cause stress no matter where they occur, but in the workplace, they can cause more damage than good. People who face arguments will experience a variety of emotions, including anger and frustration. While most people avoid conflict as much as possible, it cannot always be avoided so one should know how to handle disagreements that arise in the workplace.
The first step in managing a disagreement in the workplace is knowing how to handle yourself. Whether you are the one acting as a mediator or the one arguing, you will need to keep your emotions in control. The most important emotion to regulate is anger. It is impossible to never get angry, but make sure you do not allow anger or any emotion to prevent you from properly analyzing the situation. When you feel your emotions getting to be too great, then step away from the argument and approach it again when all parties are calmed down.
Learn to Listen
Part of handling a disagreement is learning how to listen to the other party. This may mean listening to them state things that you do not believe are right, but you possibly are wrong. People have different views on things, so make sure you ask yourself to listen to what the other party has to say and consider that they may have a valid point. If you are mediating a conflict, remind both parties to listen to the other one and consider what is being said.
Know Personality Types
When handling people, it is best if you know their personality type. A Myers-Briggs test will tell you what personality type a person has and each type handles the situation differently. If you are working with strong extroverted people, they are going to be more strong-willed and expect problems to be resolved quickly. However, with other personality types, you may have to work with dealing with how something makes them feel rather than the facts surrounding the dispute.
Another tool specifically targeted at understanding how different people will react to conflict is the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Under this model, there are five different styles of conflict and five different ways to handle them. The instrument relies on the theory that are two sets of axis, assertiveness and cooperativeness. The five different conflict style is based on a person being assertive, unassertive, cooperative, uncooperative, or compromising (meaning they will have intermediate levels of both axes). Understanding which employees fall into which categories, as well as which you fall into, could help you find strategies to diffuse or prevent conflicts before they happen.
It is important that when you are handling a disagreement in the workplace that you attempt to not sacrifice relationships just for a short-term win. Keep the goals of the company in mind and attempt to work with all parties so that no one feels like they are being forced out of the company or that they do not matter. This is true whether both people are employees or one of them is a client.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing.