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What is the Best Way to Avoid Confrontation at Work?

A boss yelling at an employee.
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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
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The amount of confrontation that you face in the workplace will more than likely depend on the job that you do. If you work in departments such as customer relations or complaints, you may deal with confrontation every day. Confrontational situations may also arise with work colleagues and can turn the working environment into a stressful place. There are a few techniques that may help either to detect or to avoid confrontation.

If you work with the public every day, there are a number of ways you can avoid confrontation. Whether you are talking face to face or on the telephone, always try to sound authorative and confident. This will make the person you are talking to aware that you are taking the situation seriously. It will also let them know that you are in charge of the situation and capable of dealing with the problem.

Another easy technique to avoid confrontation is to be on first name terms. By using this simple technique, you will sound both sympathetic and empathetic to the person’s problems. It’s as if you are saying that you know what the person is going through and that we are all human.

A technique that many managers use to avoid confrontation or to calm down a situation is called the ESP process. ESP stands for empathy, sympathy and priority. Understanding, agreeing and working out a way to deal with the problem should help to avoid confrontation.

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There are ways you can predict if a person is going to become hostile or angry. These mostly take the form of physical cues. Look out for certain body movements, such as rubbing the back of the neck, fidgeting, flaring nostrils or rapid breathing. These are all signs that a person is becoming angry and frustrated with the situation they are dealing with. Using the ESP method immediately should help calm the person down and avoid confrontation.

Workplace confrontation between colleagues is a slightly different matter. It may be a clash of personalities, in which case the best thing to do is to have minimal contact with the colleague in question. However, most personality clashes can be repaired simply by getting to know the person better. Many workplaces use team building days in order to strengthen bonds between colleagues and to help prevent confrontation.

In any workplace, there will be times when there is no way to avoid confrontation. Sometimes, confrontation is necessary in order to air some ongoing dispute. Confrontation should not always be seen as a bad thing, as an amicable agreement can arise from it.

If the everyday routine of work is being disrupted by certain behavior, then the matter may have to be taken further. A supervisor or immediate superior should be informed if the situation has taken on a bullying or violent nature. Stress in the workplace is the one of the largest reasons for absenteeism. Management should have a number of rules in place in order to help employees avoid confrontation and conflict.

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Discuss this Article

mutsy
Post 3

Suntan12-I think the best way to avoid conflict at work is to never gossip about anyone. Gossip is like a cancer that poisons employee relationships and ultimately affects the overall morale of the organization.

People like to criticize others, but it is best not say anything behind someone’s back. If someone becomes aggressive and even nasty at work, it is best to avoid them and not show any emotion.

Eventually this disgruntled person will move on to someone else because they did not get any traction. However, if the abuse continues it is best to document the situation and speak to your immediate supervisor in order to resolve workplace conflict.

suntan12
Post 2

Crispety- Causes of workplace conflict often involve salaries and promotions. Although, salaries are supposed to be confidential, some employees inadvertently may reveal their salary during a momentary conversation.

The employee that earns less does not understand the inequity of the situation and subsequently this causes conflict at the workplace.

Sometimes the conflict may involve a personality clash in which employees have difficulty working together. Whatever the conflict, anyone with excellent conflict management resolution experience is worth their weight in gold because many people try to avoid conflict and this strategy is not effective when a problem occurs.

Crispety
Post 1

Learning how to resolve conflict is a necessary skill for any manager. In order to resolve workplace conflict, a manager has to first hear both sides of the conflict and be sure to allow each person to talk uninterrupted.

It would be a good idea to talk notes and paraphrase what each person said so that the manager will fully understand the nature of the conflict.

This also shows both sides a level of respect because it demonstrates that you are paying attention and value their time. Conflict arises anytime different personalities get together. Because we may have differing views of what is offensive, there may be more conflict as a result.

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