The Top Ways to Deal with and Resolve Conflicts with Your Colleagues
Collaborating with colleagues is an important and often necessary part of working on a team. Maintaining a positive attitude can help you build relationships with them. Noticing when your colleagues need help and offering your support to them is a great way to find allies within your workplace. This helps to develop trust over time. Make sure you maintain the balance of asking and offering so others don’t feel it’s a one-sided partnership in which they’re doing all the giving.
If you’re having trouble getting a colleague to contribute, there are a few steps you can take in approaching the situation.
What to do if your colleague does not contribute
- Don’t assume. Give them the benefit of the doubt that it’s not a simple refusal to work. Start by assuming there is something else getting in the way of completing their work.
- Ask. Talk to them and ask if they’re having trouble with their part of the work and why. There might be a way to assist them, suggest resources, or otherwise address the impasse.
- Clarify. Check in with them and make sure you are both on the same page as far as responsibilities. Remember to take notes so there is a way to track accountability.
- Follow up. If your colleague still doesn’t dohasn’t done their part, follow up with an email.
- Set clear boundaries. Do not take on the other person’s work responsibilities and make sure it’s understood that you won’t be picking up their slack.
- Adjust your expectations. It might be time to reevaluate the kind of relationship you have with your colleague.
If you’ve tried the above and it results in a conflict, here are a few steps to resolve the conflict.
How to establish a shared process for resolving conflict
- Confront first. Before bringing in anyone else not directly involved, team members should respectfully confront the colleague they disagree with first.
- Keep it in person. Avoid discussing complicated issues over email. Instead, make a point to meet face-to-face, or if not possible, over video chat.
- Prepare. Team members should prepare on their own before they open a discussion with each other. This allows both parties to arrive ready to explain their concerns and discuss alternatives.
- Summarize each other’s ideas or concerns. When you force yourself to articulate each other’s point of view, you might find a new ground for compromise.
- Pause. If either person feels themselves losing track of their argument or self-control, pause the discussion until you can regain control.
- Escalate the argument, if necessary. Do this without becoming vindictive or angry. When disagreements prove intractable, frame it as, “we need help sorting this out” instead of, “the teal leaderteam leader will decide who is wrong.”
In a team environment, it’s only natural that disagreements and conflict will arise. Having a plan in place to tackle these scenarios is the best way to handle them when they come along.
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Written by Rachel Strysik