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May 9, 2022

5-Point Guide To Managing & Rising Above Professional Conflict

Professional conflict exists. People misunderstand, projects hit roadblocks and team structures change.

It’s a natural reaction for anyone to get upset and want to fight back when they encounter such obstacles. Many people think going on the offensive is how you come out on top in tense situations. Yet, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Instead, you come off looking defensive.

Follow these workplace communication approaches to keep calm, and get better results— no matter what professional conflict you might face.

Use The Block-and-Bridge Technique

The block-and-bridge technique is a communication method that helps you address the sensitive topic at hand while simultaneously presenting yourself in the best possible light.

For example, if a colleague surfaces a disagreement during a meeting, responding with a phrase like, “Let’s hold off on that topic for now so the rest of the group can stay focused on our planned agenda,” helps you maintain control and keep your cool.

Stay Focused On Results

One of the easiest ways to stay calm is to focus on the results. It doesn’t matter how either party feels about the situation when you’re all working to achieve results for the company. Following what leadership has already set as company objectives will help you stay ahead in heated conversations.

Are colleagues not completing projects on time, or are they consistently late to meetings or skipping out early without getting their work done? Refer to specific behaviors that benefit the company to help guide these conversations objectively and find solutions without escalating the issue further.

Don’t Get Emotional

It can’t be stressed enough: stay neutral. This will help you manage any situation appropriately and assist you later on should the conflict escalate. One phrase to use to remain dispassionate is, “This is what we agreed to, but I see you’re heading in a different direction.”

Document, Document, Document

When in a conflict, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but if you consistently record the evidence of your contributions, you’re more likely to maintain composure when tense situations arise. Periodically review your list to ensure you remain on track with responsibilities or projects. Also keep notes of conversations, jotting down whom you spoke with and when, as well as agreed-upon next steps. That way, you can stay on top of exactly what each person is accountable for and other people won’t be able to rattle you so easily.

Don’t Always Expect Change

Workplace relationships are tough to navigate, and they’re unfortunately not always resolved to your comfort level. Consider how important it is for you to confront a particular situation versus let it slide because once you speak up or take action, it’s hard to walk it back. Whatever you decide, remember to manage your own expectations about how colleagues will respond to you and overall outcomes. Ultimately, focusing on your own performance and maintaining calm through challenging professional conversations will serve you and your career best in the long run.

Need help navigating workplace conflict? Point Road Group can help.

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