An easy guide to conflict resolution in the workplace

  | 4 min read

What causes conflict in the workplace?

You probably spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your families and friends, and unfortunately, you don’t always get along. There are a number of things that can cause conflict in the workplace, for instance:

  • Office gossip can bring misunderstandings
  • Differing views on a project
  • Conflicting communication styles
  • Emotions and ego; people taking criticism too personally

But the thing is, whether you feel like you are responsible or not for a conflict with another coworker or even supervisor if it starts to negatively affect your experience at work (and even worse, your performance) than it’s your responsibility to resolve it. This can be incredibly stressful if you are not a confrontational person, but luckily, resolving a conflict in the workplace doesn’t have to involve a serious argument.

In fact, these 5 tips will surely help you the next time you are in a difficult situation with a coworker.

  1. Identify the problem

The best way to resolve a conflict is to simply talk about it. However, before you approach your coworker with your issue, you need to clearly understand what you are mad about. For instance, if a coworker consistently ignores your input in projects or assigns the busy work to you, then you need to identify specific situations when this happened. This will make you more effective in your conversation with your coworker, rather than you just generally telling them that you have a problem with them. All in all, you need to clearly communicate what the issue is, and circumstances when it has arisen, and ask them how you can resolve it for the sake of the workplace.

2.Don’t take it personally

In addition to identifying what the specific problem is, you also need to remove your emotions and ego from the situation. Even if the conflict is not necessarily work related but about something personal (for instance a coworker talking about you), you shouldn’t address it as such. Instead, you need to identify how the issue affects you professionally. However, if you do have a friendship with the coworker, then you can address them as such.   

3.Talk to an objective third party

Another way to resolve your conflict is to actually talk to someone who is completely unbiased with the matter. You may find that you have contributed to the issue in some way, and need to be accountable. They may also give you suggestions on how to deal with the conflict that you may not have thought of.

4.Get HR involved

If the conflict persists and it starts to affect your work, or if it’s an issue with a supervisor or senior level employee that you feel uncomfortable talking to, then let HR know the problem, in writing. And they’ll be responsible for dealing with it. It’s HR’s job to ensure that you have a comfortable and safe work environment, so don’t hesitate to get them involved.

5.Let it go

Sometimes you need to pick your battle, and every spat you have with a coworker is not worth acknowledging or dealing with. If you can simply ignore a person, or don’t have to interact with them often, then that could be the best way to resolve your issue with them.

We are all leaders in the workplace

Even if you are not in a position of authority, you need to set an example for other employees by your behaviour in the workplace. So don’t let an office conflict take you out of your character, instead, keep it professional and resolve it as swiftly as possible.

But remember, it’s not enough to just talk about it, you have to come up with a plan of how to resolve and avoid the issue happening again in the future.


Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.