Avoiding Co-Worker Clashes

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June 21, 2013

Last year I completed mediation training through Orange County Human Relations. I took the 40 hour program to refresh my skills and strengthen my abilities as a mediator in the workplace. So often we think of mediation as something that happens in the courthouse … be it small claims, community conflicts or family law issues. However, more and more, I find that mediation in the workplace, or what I like to call “Relationship Repair”, is becoming a common need. Damaged relationships create stress and tension for one or both parties. Frustrations build and feeling fester. When left unattended to, productivity declines, employees quit, lawsuits are filed and quite simply put … all hell breaks loose. So what can you do prevent management meltdowns, business blow ups and coworker clashes?


1. “Seek first to understand and then to be understood understand” - Steven Covey’s 5th habit of highly effective people* is an excellent place to begin. So often we get wrapped up in planning our response that we don’t fully hear what the other person is saying. Focus on listening intently to understand the speaker.

2. Ask questions to gain clarity. Pay attention to both the verbal and non-verbal cues to fully understand not just the message, but the emotion behind it. This will help you to capture the full picture. Walk a mile in my shoes: When listening to another person’s perspective, take a moment to try to see the situation from their vantage point. Consider their feelings and the impact the situation has on them. By understanding their situation, you may find it easier to explore alternatives you might not have considered. In addition, showing empathy has a positive impact on the emotional needs of the speaker to be heard and understood. This creates a more positive interpersonal exchange.

3. Focus on the aim and avoid blame: When confronted with a conflict situation, try to focus on the problem versus the person. Avoid highly charged words and accusatory language. Identify the common goal and work together to create options, come to consensus or create a compromise.

4. Don’t stockpile your frustrations: Many people hate conflict and will do anything to avoid a confrontation. When unresolved issues are allowed to build up, a breaking point is reached and the dam breaks. Negativity and ill will comes gushing out. This type of scenario is like gasoline on a fire. The setting is inflammatory and reaching resolution is longer and more painful. Address issues as they occur.

For more information on RELATIONSHIP REPAIR SESSIONS or CONFLICT RESOLUTION contact me at info@GoldinLeadership.com