Workplace disputes are futile egotistical diversions, which waste a lot of time and energy. Personally, I usually avoid them like the plague. That’s not to say I don’t feel strongly about certain issues. I abhor it when my values are dishonoured. However, I now know enough to realise that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Also, life is simply too short to become embroiled. The way to handle workplace disputes is to shift into higher self leadership mode and tackle them from that perspective. This is the way to approach any dispute whether it is one either you or your team members involved.
Disputes usually arise when someone else’s rules, opinions or behaviours impinge on our own personal boundaries that we can no longer turn a blind eye to.
The cost of workplace disputes
At work in the UK, around 117,926K employment disputes were recorded in 2020/21. So the phenomenon is real. The emergence of an application to an employment tribunal is quite often the end result of a long and arduous route. Whereby somewhere along the line, parties to the dispute have failed to find a solution or a meeting of minds.
Workplace conflict is extremely costly. In a study by CPP Global, it was found that resolving conflict took up, on average, one day per month for each and every worker. If you start doing the math, then you realise that the cost to businesses is pretty huge. But even then disputes at work have a ripple effect. Not only do they take precious time to resolve, but they can also create an awful atmosphere. Other consequences include absence from work, knotty HR issues while disputes are being solved and simply dragging down the business.
Why disputes occur
There are many reasons why disputes occur, but some of the common dynamics present are: Roles of victim and victimiser, a sense of unfairness or injustice: A need to be right and the other wrong and sometimes a need to be better than or indignation at being seen as less than.
Some of the causes of disputes arising from:
- Rules imposed by one party have been broken by the other. The other doesn’t agree on the rules in the first place
- There is a disagreement on the facts
- One person is seen as having an unfair advantage over another
- A person’s behaviour is or is seen as unacceptable
- Decisions are made which don’t consider the person or their circumstances
- There is a personality clash
- Inadequate communication exists.
Because we are all so unique and our perspectives are so very different, conflict resolution management isn’t always a success, As can be seen by the number of disputes which have reached an employment tribunal. In fact, many companies might argue that the most important HR Expertise is being able to minimise the effects of disputes in the workplace.
A different mindset
There is no magic wand, unfortunately. Human behaviour doesn’t transform instantly. A change of mind is needed. This is not just in the workplace, but at home, in politics, and in global leadership. When you place your higher self in charge, you approach conflict from a place of kindness, respect and care for everyone involved.
The mindset shift you achieve from operating from your higher self would produce a significant change. Instead of unhealthy disputes which simply squash the spirit, waste time and stunt creativity and innovation, the focus is on creating dynamics of equal value, harmonious working (healthy conflict is allowed!), and respect of boundaries and understanding each other.
These can translate into possible actions to handle workplace disputes such as:
- Helping people who feel victimised to access their inner strength and honour themselves.
- Creating a common purpose and vision when setting rules and boundaries, and when others can’t or don’t meet them, helping them as much as possible to do so.
- Allowing people to make an occasional mistake.
- Treating everyone with equal value as a person
- Involving and honouring everyone when instigating change
- Being aware of and acknowledging decisions may have a negative impact on others and finding ways to help people when that is the case.
- Raising awareness of how we operate as human beings and our impact on others.
- Creating congruent communication, where different styles are respected and used.
- Avoid judging perspectives as right or wrong, but as working out what does and doesn’t work.
When you realise the way to handle workplace disputes can be opportunities to unite and bring greater understanding, then you will approach them in a completely different way
I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.
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