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Tips for resolving inter-office conflict

As a manager, part of your job involves solving a variety of problems, either with clients or equipment or, sometimes, other employees. At times, it may seem like you're more a referee than a manager.

Conflicts within the office occur for a number of reasons. They could come from personality clashes, poor communication and misunderstandings, or anger for legitimate reasons, such as an employee not doing his or her work or taking credit for things he or she didn't do.

Regardless of the cause of the conflict, if you are dealing with some level of inter-office conflict, it is important that you resolve it for a number of reasons. Conflicts or problems that are left unchecked can result in lawsuits for hostile work environments, sexual harassment charges, and other serious concerns for your company.

When working to solve interoffice conflicts, there are a number of ways you can address the conflict, including:

 Collaboration. With this solution, those who are in conflict with each other work together to come up with a solution that benefits both parties.
 Compromise. With a compromise, the individuals both give a little in order to reach an agreement that both are satisfied with.

Other ways to address conflict include avoiding or ignoring the situation completely, which can lead to a blow up and increased frustration, or competing with each other to get what you want. These are not constructive ways to handle conflict within the office and could compromise your work performance and maybe even your job.

The following are some tips for resolving inter-office conflict.
 Approach the individual in person, privately. Don't confront someone where everyone can hear or when there are other people present. In addition, don't take the easy way out and send an email or leave a note. This looks cowardly and is unproductive as well.
 State the cause of the problem. This is important to make sure everyone is on the same page because one person may think the problem lies elsewhere, or could be upset about something completely different.
 Make sure the person knows why it is a problem. Chances are, the person doesn't even know they have done anything, or they don't know how it affects you.
 Focus on the issue at hand. If your discussion gets heated, avoid bringing up past issues or those that don't have anything to do with the problem. Stick to the problem at hand.
 Be aware of your wording. Be careful not to make such statements as "You always," and other "you" statements that sound like personal attacks. Instead, try to make statements that reflect your feelings and how you are affected.
 Be friendly. Often, a person will not even know there is a problem and will gladly stop what they are doing if you approach them professionally and in a non confrontational manner. For example, if you say, "I'm having trouble concentrating with your music, would you mind turning it down?" sounds much better than, "Your music is always so loud and it's giving me a headache."

Interoffice conflicts are inevitable in most office environments. Bringing different personalities, tastes, and opinions together is bound to result in some type of clash sooner or later. However, by being professional and understanding, you can resolve inter office conflicts by practicing some of the above tips and suggestions.

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Posted by DF
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