If you work in an office, you know that getting along with your co-workers can be challenging and there may be conflict. People from all different backgrounds may have to work together in a single office. They will all have their own ideas about the best way to accomplish goals, and they may have different ways of communicating their approval or disapproval of someone else’s ideas.

There are definitely going to be certain conflicts in the workplace, and sometimes they can get out of hand. In some cases, a conflict may lead to complaints to management; in other cases, it may lead to shouting and causing a disturbance or even leading up to physical altercations.

Remember that in a violent situation, you should always call the police. Law enforcement officers have training on how to handle conflicts and de-escalate situations.

There are a few different things you can do to de-escalate conflict in the workplace. It does not hurt to train your managers and employees in these situations.

1. See it Coming

Ignoring a problem, or not realizing that there is a problem is one of the biggest reasons conflicts escalate in the first place. Watch for signs of disagreements between people. If you notice workers in conflict, do not be afraid to step in and talk to both of them. Signs of conflict include:

  • A worker repeatedly mentions mistakes that a coworker is making.
  • People talk in muffled voices with tense body language such as tight fists, clenched jaws, and crossed arms. Someone fidgeting a lot may also be a sign of conflict.
  • Someone excessively gossiping to their coworkers can often be a sign of impending conflict. Keep your ears open. Your employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they have conversations on company telephones or when they instant message one another on the company computer.

2. Use Empathy

Letting people know you understand where they are coming from, can go a long way in the de-escalation or resolving of a conflict. When you talk to an employee about a conflict they are in, restate what they have told you about the situation.

Try to get the two people in conflict to understand what the other person is feeling. Try to get people to write down the other person’s side of the story. Once a person understands another person’s way of thinking, they may find it easier to negotiate with them and come to a solution.

3. Discuss the Resolution

Once you have acknowledged the conflict and you have gotten people to see eye-to-eye, you will want to figure out the de-escalation of the conflict Have each person write down what they think the de-escalation would be. Discuss the possible outcomes of each solution.

When deciding on the solution; you want to be as objective as you possibly can be and use the resolution that will benefit your customers the most. Use facts and statistics to determine a solution to the problem if you can.

4. Counter Anger with Calm

If someone is yelling or even threatening to be violent, there are a few things that you can do to placate them, until they calm down or you can contact security. Allow the person to speak and listen to them carefully. Look at them without staring and nod to let them know you are listening. When you do speak, do so in a calm voice, and let them know you want to help them.

Conflicts at work can seem overwhelming. If you use the right tactics, you may be able to get even the most incompatible of people to see eye-to-eye. You can read more here.