How to Resolve Workplace Conflict

Companies bleed thousands of dollars because of conflict. A CPP Human Capital Report found "U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours." When employees and managers don't handle conflict well, it can lead to greater costs from hiring, turnover, and training.

How to Solve a Conflict


The Problem with Conflicts

"I'm not getting along with my coworker, Jordan," Sam says to his wife. "He doesn't do his work, and he acts like he can boss me around. I've finally decided that I am going to quit and find another job."

People leave jobs because of interpersonal conflict every day. Sadly, employers could retain more of these employees if they trained them on how to resolve conflict appropriately.


There are 3 common practices people fall into that destroy healthy relationships:

  1. Practice #1: The conflict does not get vocalized between parties until the issue has become exacerbated.

  2. Practice #2: Both parties in conflict feel like they are in the right and the other side is wrong. Neither side grasps their personal share of the blame.

  3. Practice #3: After avoiding resolution for an exhausting period of time, parties sever the relationship to find sanity.

These practices can be corrected by dealing with conflict constructively instead of destructively.


How to discuss a conflict constructively


There are 3 critical parts to discussing a conflict constructively: 1) addressing the problem immediately, 2) specifying the problem, and 3) listening to the other side.

  1. Address the problem immediately. Avoiding a problem can lead to tension buildup over time. The University of Notre Dame Business College suggests that businesses should address conflict as soon as possible before it negatively affects productivity.

PRO TIP: Set a time with the other person to discuss the problem.

Example: "Jordan, I've had something bothering me that I would like to talk to you about. When would be the soonest and best time we can discuss it?"

  1. Specify the problem. Avoid hinting and being vague. Conflicts are much easier to resolve when both sides know exactly what the problem is.

PRO TIP: To avoid sounding like the other person is the problem, state the problem in terms of how the problem is affecting you rather than the person.

Example: "I've been struggling because I've felt like I am pulling more than my weight." VS "You don't do your work!"

  1. Listen to the other person's side. When open communication is initiated, it's tempting to dominate the conversation. However, it is crucial that you listen to the other side. Through listening, you can get to the root of a problem. You may even discover how YOU are also contributing to the problem. If you want to find resolution now and later, listen to the other side.

PRO TIP: Summarize or restate what the other person has said in your own words. This shows the other side that you are paying attention.

Example: "So if I understand right, you haven't been able to accomplish as much work because of a medical condition."

Follow these constructive solutions. They will help you avoid the 3 common practices that destroy healthy relationships.


Transform How Your Organization Works


Workplace conflict costs companies because it often leads to absence, sickness, turnover, and lost productivity. To learn how you can transform the way your organization handles conflict, go to