How to Deal With Conflict at Work

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Finding yourself involved in a workplace conflict can cause anxiety and even affect your job performance. Leaving problems unsolved can ultimately cause tension throughout the entire office as coworkers choose sides, and perpetuate negative issues. Conflicts can arise from a variety of sources ranging from minor annoyances to major workplace deficiencies. Although conflict can be difficult to address, learning how to approach situations can reduce your apprehension.

Review formal policies regarding conflict resolution. This is especially important as acceptable office procedures can vary depending on factors such workplace position. For example, while it’s usually recommended to confront a coworker directly, you may be advised to bring in your immediate supervisor when the conflict is with a subordinate or superior employee.

Assess your workplace behaviors and actions in an objective manner. Is your negative or lethargic attitude causing some of the conflict? Maybe arriving to work on time or not taking so many phone calls during work can ease some conflict. Find ways to acknowledge and correct adverse behaviors within your control. If possible, step away from the situation to gain clarity during a vacation.

Refrain from gossiping about your problems with coworkers. Avoid being labeled as immature and unprofessional. Although some coworkers readily listen and encourage gossip, no one likes being the subject of these discussions. If you must talk about workplace conflict with a coworker, make sure the conversation will be held in strict confidence.

Arrange a meeting in a private location to discuss the reason for the conflict. Approach the other party with professionalism to avoid sparking more negativity. Avoid using aggressive language or posturing during the meeting including yelling and folding your arms. Suggest ways to compromise for an ideal resolution. Admit to and apologize for your wrongdoings without being prompted. Refrain from interrupting or rushing your coworker.

Speak with a member of the human resources department for advice. Ask about alternate working arrangements, including being assigned to another supervisor or cubicle area. Explain your position with detail, and request mediation if necessary. Keep records of your interactions with departmental personnel for future reference.


Although no one enjoys admitting faults, doing so can help alleviate tension in some situations. If your conflict is with management or the human resources department, it may be necessary to contact your local employment office for help.


Avoid threatening your coworkers with aggressive statements or actions. Doing so could cost you your job.