Strategies and actions to foster a trouble-free work environment

We are social beings, so it is to be expected that we sometimes experience conflicts with our peers. Having differences of opinion is often the trigger for these conflicts, and we should look for solutions to help us handle them. But what if these conflicts happen at our workplace, creating a tense and hostile environment? The workplace may become a setting for conflict in different scenarios. Working under difficult conditions affects employee performance, so it’s important for both colleagues and employers to foster a pleasant work environment, where problems can be solved without escalating into undesirable situations. This will help us do our job satisfactorily while also improving the company’s operations.

Below, we’ve shared some useful strategies to handle conflict in the workplace:

  • Take a deep breath: the best thing we can do in stressful situations is to take a few minutes to breathe deeply and channel our emotions. Whenever we find ourselves in a conflict situation, it’s important to remain calm and organize our thoughts.
  • Cool off: before acting trying to solve a conflict when we’re upset or angry is not always the best option. This could lead us to make decisions that we may later find to be unsatisfactory. In fact, later on, we may realize there were other feasible alternatives we failed to take into account because we were angry.
  • Respect: it is especially important to maintain a respectful attitude towards our colleagues when expressing our thoughts or concerns, even if we have different opinions. We all know healthy relationships are based on respect, and work relations are no exception. Therefore, we should keep in mind that, in order for our thoughts and feelings to be taken into account by the receiver, we must express ourselves respectfully.
  • Listen: just like we feel the need to be heard, our colleagues also have the same need. Take a break to allow your colleagues to express themselves, and listen genuinely to what they’re trying to convey, so you can find a solution to your conflict together.
  • Introspection: acknowledging when we’re wrong is a quality that can help us in many areas. It is possible that, without realizing it, our inflexibility often leads to conflict. Stopping to analyze our behavior and actions can help us identify signals that could be causing confrontations in the workplace. If we determine we have caused an unnecessary conflict, it is our duty to make amends and apologize.
  • Refer: if our conflict with our colleague seems to have no solution, in spite of the alternatives provided, we may need to resort to a mediator. Occasionally, differences between people are too great to be resolved on their own, so it may be beneficial to resort to a third-party intervention from someone with a higher authority.
  • Foster a good environment: it is up to all of us, both employers and employees, to maintain a pleasant work environment. Promoting a work area free of destructive criticism, gossip and unhealthy competition will help us avoid contention and conflict.

We should keep in mind that most workers spend at least forty hours a week at their workplace. Therefore, making the best of these days may be very beneficial for our physical and emotional health.

This article was written by Emily Tapia Romano, student at the Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program at Albizu University.

Sources: Hern√°ndez-Santiago, N. (2020). Ambiente laboral: Implicaciones para la salud mental. Revista Salud y Conducta Humana, 7(1).