Steve and John Are Yelling Again: Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Imagine you are walking down the hall at work and you hear two voices in the conference room. Steve is telling John that he will NOT do “that.” It won’t work and he refuses to do it.

“You will do it!”


The door opens and slams, Steve storms down the hall.

We know Steve isn’t happy about the work, we know John wants it done and it must be important.  These two have a history of standoffs. They yell, but the work gets done.

How could this be productive.  How?  When we are witness or party to such exchanges we can’t see that his is ever beneficial.  Well, THIS particular behavior isn’t, but what can be learned is beneficial.  If each would commit to working together, John would ask Steve why it won’t work.  This would give Steve the opportunity to explain that the current building regulations specify how this is installed and that they won’t pass inspection doing it John’s way.

Instead, Steve storms down the hall calculating a way to get the inspections done before and then after the install so that they don’t hit a delay.  Also, Steve knows an innovative method to approach the installation of the chiller that is cheaper, faster and less dangerous. Steve saw it done earlier in the year on another project but can’t tell John about it before the blow up begins.

Disagreement doesn’t have to mean there is a winner and a loser. Often it means that together you can find a better answer than either of you had individually. Talking about issues and exploring the options without a power struggle or anger is the key to Productive Disagreement.

Try asking questions and letting the situation play out with an open mind. See what you learn and what changes come from this new mindset.  Having trouble seeing that this is possible, call us.  We can help!  Conflict Resolution in the workplace doesn’t have to be hard.

Reaching Conflict Resolution

Conflict shows in many forms

  • Yelling
  • Disagreement
  • Cold Shoulder
  • Constant Irritation

Conflict also happens in different ways.

  • Between individuals because of personal issues
  • Between individuals because of work issues
  • Between individuals because of misunderstanding
  • Between groups because of one person’s issue
  • Between groups because of everyone’s issue

When individuals have issues, reaching conflict resolution is often the job of  a supervisor.  “Stop it.”  While this is less than effective, it seems to be the method of choice.  (I could spend hours explaining alternatives to “Stop It” that not only work but work well and for the long term.)  Occasionally HR is called in to manage the issue.

When groups have issue, it is a different animal.  Reaching conflict resolution of this sort requires more than “Stop it.”  The issue is difficult to ignore, impossible to sweep under the carpet and can destroy profitability of the department or of the overall organization.

Intuitively, we know conflict is destructive and we know conflict isn’t repaired by time.  If we know this to be true, why are individuals reluctant to address the situation?  If individuals decide address it, how should it be done and by who?

Unless the organization is truly on the cutting edge of problem management, an outsider who specializes in the area is usually brought in.  We have helped parties reach conflict resolution in every industry.  We have found that people, collectively, do not want to work in a hostile environment and they are capable of and willing to change.  The simple acknowledgement of this is where resolution begins.

Do you have a group at odds?  Maybe two groups who don’t respect each other and make work difficult when both groups are involved?  You aren’t alone.  Call us!  We can help you address the issue and find a solution that works for the individuals involved.  You guys don’t have to like each other, but there needs to be respect.  Respect is earned and built, we can show you how!