Trouble & Strife! How to manage conflict at work

It’s a subject that we’d rather not have to think about but now and again it’s sometimes the reality of a working life: a conflict. It can happen anywhere but in a creative environment big ideas can mean big disruption! So, how can we deal with this?

Think positive:
We must also bear in mind that wherever collaboration exists, there are bound to be differences of opinion. However, this can be the positive force that drives creative change!

Say your piece – and listen:
A difference of opinion is, as mentioned sometimes a very positive thing but the key to growth is to listen to one another, remain respectful and give evidence as to why you believe something to be better, easier, more fun or more profitable.

A team leader or manager can sometimes mediate, although it’s often better for the people involved to be able to resolve by themselves, as this leads to real expansion and understanding. It’s therefore of utmost importance not to lose sight of shared goals as these really can ‘glue’ a team or partnership together.

If it turns into a feud… what next?
If a disagreement turns into a full-blown argument it becomes a little trickier. Pride and stubbornness can be major factors that stand in the way and they can prevent a solution. In this situation a superior will usually get involved.

It’s important to make sure that intervention occurs before things get out of hand; the longer a negative situation is allowed to carry on for, the more emotional it becomes. Most companies have a conflict management procedure in place. A manager and HR department can have a key role getting the working relationship back on track again and this must happen as soon as possible, otherwise it can negatively influence the rest of the team or project.

Points to remember when involved in a conflict:

  • Try to be rational: don’t let emotion run too high as this will become a barrier and you will lose light of the objective.
  • Remain respectful: this is so important. Never get verbally or physically violent and do not focus on anything else apart from the subject on hand.
  • Listen: it is a part of being respectful. Try and understand the other person’s point of view and try and communicate yours to them.
  • Focus on the shared goal.
  • Do not gossip; it can manoeuvre other colleagues into a very uneasy situation! It reflects badly upon your own character as well.
  • Compromise; be prepared to do this for the common goal.
  • Feel valued; a fundamental need for every human being. In a working environment this is paramount; your opinion counts.
  • Get inspired; someone else can have a completely different style of getting things done. Enjoy this and learn from one another – as long as the common goal remains in sight. More than one road leads to Rome so allow it to be a learning curve and lead to fantastic things.
  • Take on positive criticism. Don’t take it personally.
  • Move on; resolving a conflict is difficult. If it has been resolved, then move on and work together as colleagues. Never bear a grudge.
  • Last but not least; enjoy the renewed working commitment and communication. Resolving a bad situation can only make you feel great!

If all else fails…
Obviously the above sounds easier said than done. There are other paths to take if it’s a case of unfair treatment or bullying. Fortunately these circumstances are not common but it’s always important to know your legal rights. A company handbook or contract will give extra information about your workplace, the ethics and the values that are adhered to. If your company has a HR department they will have this and be able to advise.

If a conflict remains unresolved and all options have been exhausted, then you may just want and need to move on from your present job and go elsewhere to get inspired again. If you do choose to do that, then it’s very important to be honest about this decision, if asked by a future employer. They will value your honesty. Leaving a position on good terms will also stand you in good stead for future employment, as you may need to request a reference. Leaving situations behind means creating room to look forward to taking the next step in your career.

Embrace change:
So, if it’s time to move on then we’d love to help you. We specialise in the best creative and communications jobs for talented people. Our clients are leading creative companies based in the East Midlands and Amsterdam. We manage a range of creative jobs in areas such as: Graphic Design, Account Management, Digital Design & Development, PR, Social Media, Marketing and more


Call us on +44 (0)115 8 245 245 or email [email protected]

Author Director "Life's a journey, not a destination."