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Business English: Dealing with Conflict

6 years ago
Dealing with conflict

It is a guarantee that at some stage of our working careers we will have to deal with conflict in the workplace. This may arise due to disagreements, personality clashes or simple misunderstandings. If you are a team leader or manager, conflict is simply unavoidable. Good conflict resolution skills are essential for anyone who wishes to work in a leadership or management position.

This blog post covers some of the ways in which a manager can broach a source of conflict with a team member and then identify the issue at hand. It includes some ways in which you can demonstrate active listening skills and show sympathy towards your team member. The language used is indirect and very diplomatic. Often an employee´s sense of frustration can arise due to misunderstandings, or a feeling that their efforts are not being appreciated. Finally, we will also look at some of the ways in which you can move forward from the issue at hand while also including your disgruntled team member in the decision-making process.

1 > Open the discussion
I have a feeling that there might be some issues we need to deal with. I was hoping we could sit down together and chat about them.
I sense that there might be some areas you are not completely satisfied with these days, so I was hoping we could sit down and talk about them.
Is there anything on your mind?
Is there anything you’d like to tell me about?

2 > Identify the issue
I’ve noticed that you and your coworkers seem to be arguing a lot recently.
I was just wondering if I could perhaps get a clearer picture of exactly what was going on.
It seems to me in recent weeks that you’ve been coming in a little late to work more often than before.
I know there’s a good reason for this, and I’m very concerned as to what it is.

3 > Listen Actively
>> Acknowledge and Repeat
Employee: It’s just that working the night shift every single week is just getting to be really frustrating.
Manager: Mh hmm. I see. Frustrating. Yes, I can understand what you mean.
Employee: So, in my opinion, there are some serious communication problems between our team and upper management.
Manager: Uh huh. Communication problems. I can see you feel strongly about this.

4 > Express sympathy
I understand that this is very frustrating.
Yes, I can understand what you mean.
I can see you feel strongly about this.
I know what you mean.
Yes, that’s understandable.

5 > Making a suggestion
Why don’t we try asking everyone else what they think?
What would you say to getting more people involved?
Would it help if we tried getting everybody together to talk?
How about holding a meeting with everybody involved?

6 > Asking an opinion
What are your own views on how we should go forward?
What kind of solutions would you propose?
What are your thoughts on how to move forward?
I was wondering what your ideas on this situation are?
What sort of suggestions might you have for reaching a solution?