Working Things Out Between Co-Workers The Right Way

Flickr CC via Phong Nguyen

For KMG Consultants, we understand that conflict within the workplace is rarely a good thing. However, it would be naïve to assume that all conflict can be avoided. So how do you deal with conflict in the workplace and resolve issues between co-workers in a productive way?


  • Keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your co-workers. When communicating with your co-workers, be sure to always do so clearly and to respond promptly.
  • After finishing a conversation with a co-worker, follow up and ensure that both of you are clear on what you discussed. You don’t want any situation to become worse or go unresolved simply because of a lack of communication.
  • If possible, always try to have conversations in person instead of through email. Not only does this decrease the likelihood that you will be misunderstood, but it will keep your fellow co-worker from thinking you are being passive aggressive or avoiding their presence.

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Strategies for resolving issues

  • Prepare what you are going to talk about and do a little brainstorming about how the situation might play out. Don’t participate in or start a conflict if you are unprepared and have no plan.
  • Try to identify common ground with other employees.
  • This may seem obvious, but it’s important: propose a fair solution to the conflict. Nothing will get better if neither side changes their ways or suggests a solution.

Be a good person

  • Practice common courtesy—say your magic words (please and thank you) and generally be kind to other people. Even when you are flustered or angered, try to keep a polite tone of voice.
  • Respect the value of others’ time. Your problem may be important, but remember that your co-workers have schedules to keep and projects to complete as well—don’t make it all about you.
  • Don’t treat some people differently than you would others, and expect the same respect in return.
  • Give your co-workers the benefit of the doubt. Even if it seems they don’t have a good reason for what they are doing, ask questions and try to learn more about the situation. It is important that you do not jump to conclusions.
  • Don’t pass the buck! Take responsibility for your actions and don’t try to pin your mistakes on others.
  • Try to understand your fellow employee’s perspective, but don’t assume that you immediately understand their point of view without asking them several clarifying questions.

Other considerations

  • When conflicts occur, resolve them sooner rather than later. You don’t want conflicts that simmer into passive aggression and disrupt the rest of the workplace.
  • If any conflict escalates too quickly and you want to attempt to resolve the situation (but feel a little too involved to remain objective and civil), make sure that there is someone there to moderate the situation. If this is a person who is in a position of authority, that would be best.
  • If your conflict becomes serious, get superiors involved and make sure that everything is recorded.

For our latest job openings, be sure to visit the KMG Consultants CareerBuilder page!

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