Conflict Resolution in the Workplace – What To Do When An Employee Sees Red

Conflict resolution and dealing with anger in the workplace is one of the most difficult and awkward processes a supervisor/manager/director must face. Depending upon frequency, subject of anger and team dynamics, reactions may range from ignoring the problem to full scale outside intervention. Managers we speak to often lament the trend to give legitimacy to trivial complaints. Ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away, is seldom – if ever a valid approach. Herein lies the problem.

We suggest 5 steps to deal with anger in the workplace. Once again, much depends upon the issue, the participants and the history. Using the following 5 steps will go a long way to helping the office work through anger issues.

Acknowledge the Anger. It can be as subtle as asking “what’s going on?” Be sure to frame questions as open ended that will open the way for conversations. Asking “are you going to be okay?” will give you a yes or no answer and discussion will probably end there.

Find the Source of Anger. When anger has been allowed to continue and build. Anger outbreaks may not necessarily represent the real issue. Spending time sleuthing the underlying issues will provide a good starting point for discussion.

Make Communication a Priority. Not everyone finds conversation about anger comfortable. Letting participants vent, not placing blame and simply listening is powerful. Foster communication.

Problem Solving. Get input from all participants. Sometimes you will be amazed that answers may be more similar than not. Treat the interaction as a problem solving venture. Once again – don’t let blame be a component of the process.

Clarify Expectations. Staff needs to know your objectives for office behavior. Identify your expectations and let them be known – and reminded.

We won’t kid you – there will be times that issues will be best served by outside help. Always keep in touch with your HR department. Never let anger run your office.

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