Resolving Conflict in Business Communications

Conflict Management 101: Resolving Conflict in Business Communications

2 min read

April 18, 2023

“Sam’s latest email seemed angry.”

“Melinda said I need to look happier at the next meeting.”

“Alex’s presentation used my idea.”

If these examples sound familiar, you’re not alone. Everyone will experience workplace conflict at some point. The points of contention may be overt or subtle, intentional or inadvertent, but they can throw off even the most focused employee.

No matter the cause, workplace conflict is widespread. Over one-third (36%) of people report dealing with conflict often or even all of the time in their jobs. Managers spend over four hours each week dealing with conflict on average.

While conflict is unavoidable, experts agree it’s essential to resolve any issues before they become big problems. When handled correctly, conflict can be a way to identify opportunities to learn and grow stronger as an organization.

Common Sources of Conflict in the Workplace

Diverse workforces are an asset to companies. Bringing together people with different skills, personalities, and approaches makes for a creative and dynamic team but can also create challenges.

Some of the most common causes of workplace conflict include:

  • Personality clashes
  • Work-related stress
  • Lack of clarity
  • Differing priorities
  • Miscommunication
  • Lack of leadership

Understanding what leads to conflict can help resolve or even prevent it. Clear communication and the right business collaboration tools can often build a harmonious company culture.

The Challenges of Remote Work

Remote work can be a double-edged sword when it comes to workplace conflict. On the one hand, remote workers aren’t dealing with challenging in-office colleagues – a bonus when Todd keeps stealing everyone’s lunch.

On the other hand, virtual communications can be challenging to interpret, and every interaction carries more weight. Remote employees may feel disconnected from their in-person co-workers, not knowing the nuances of their communication styles.

Communication tools are vital to remote workers’ connection to their job. Managers need to foster healthy virtual environments for their employees. They should ensure everyone feels safe in group chats and meetings by discouraging bad behavior and facilitating constructive communication on all platforms.

The Negative (and Surprisingly Positive) Impact of Workplace Conflict

When left unaddressed, workplace conflict can have a negative ripple effect across the organization. The more time employees spend dealing with conflict, the lower their satisfaction and engagement.

Employees affected by conflict are less productive; report higher stress, depression, and anxiety; and are more likely to leave their jobs. Experts in the UK estimate that nearly half a million people resign each year due to conflict.

Fortunately, early intervention can mitigate the potential harm of conflict and even lead to positive outcomes. When people with opposing views of a situation are willing to collaborate on a solution, they feel like they’ve built something together and will know how to work better as a team.

Unresolved conflict can be costly, but when managed well, it can be an opportunity for collaboration and growth. Good leaders need to hone their resolution skills and realize that conflict doesn’t need to be a negative experience.

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Strategies for Preventing and Managing Conflict

Conflict management is a challenge even for the most seasoned leaders. Successful conflict resolution strategies are integral to building strong teams and fostering a collaborative work environment.

Clear communication can pave the way to a healthier, more positive work environment. Here are some tips for using business collaboration solutions to minimize workplace conflict and improve interactions on your team.

1. Set Expectations for Behavior

Don’t assume that everyone already knows what acceptable behavior looks like. Remote and in-person employees should be held to the same standards in the company chat or during a meeting. Save guidelines for workplace behavior in a shared folder and keep your employees accountable.

2. Identify Communication Gaps

Most workplace conflict arises from miscommunication rather than ill intent. For example, if an employee consistently feels misunderstood when projects are discussed in emails, try moving that conversation to a video call so everyone can see their expressions and body language.

3. Reduce Uncertainty

Another point of contention arises when people aren’t clear about their role in a project. Set transparent workflows and identify each person’s responsibilities using project management tools so they know exactly what they need to do.

4. Don’t Ignore Conflict

“Keeping the peace” only lasts for so long regarding workplace conflict. Minor problems often indicate more significant issues, so dealing with them early is better. If you suspect an employee is struggling, invite them to discuss it over a video call or coffee.

5. Get Everyone on the Same Team

Sometimes, it can be hard to remember that everyone is working toward the same goal when terse emails are flying back and forth. If certain employees are at odds, schedule a meeting (in person or on video) to talk it out face-to-face. Let them express their feelings, then help identify ways to collaborate on a solution.

Communicate Your Way to Conflict Resolution with Mitel

Workplace conflict may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be entirely negative. Learn how Mitel can help your business harness communications solutions to prevent and resolve workplace conflict – and even lead to stronger collaboration and positive outcomes.

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