Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies
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Organizations often delay in requesting outside help for a workplace conflict because they’re hesitant to allocate the money. Conflict-resolution trainers, mediators, coaches, and consultants usually don’t work for free, but don’t let the cost dissuade you from considering outside help. You won’t know how much an expert costs until you do the research, and you may be surprised by what you find.

If you’re personally uncertain about spending the money, or if you need a solid argument to get accounting or upper management to authorize the expenditure, assess the cost of doing nothing. The hard and soft costs associated with unresolved conflict can make a convincing argument for even the most fiscally conservative CFO.

Financial analysis aside, you may be hesitating to call in professional help because

  • You’re worried that there’s a stigma attached to asking for help. You want to believe — and, maybe more important, you want to show— that you can handle anything that comes your way. Reputation is important in business as well as in life, and the fear of how others will perceive the situation could lead you to hesitate in taking the next step. By calling in the right person, though, you have the opportunity to build on your reputation as a capable leader.

  • The idea of hiring a professional is overwhelming or intimidating. If you’ve never worked with a conflict resolution specialist before, the uncertainty associated with an unknown service may be daunting. The right person can calm your concerns.

  • You’re holding out hope that the conflict will work itself out if you give it just one more day or another week. If you’re willing to give it a little more time, that’s okay. Keep in mind, though, that problems between a few co-workers often affect other employees and can lead to a larger conflict.

  • Emotionally, you feel you’re giving the employees who are at conflict too much attention, which is what you think they want. You may see calling in an expert as giving in to bad behavior. What appears to be giving in, though, can be a very strategic move on your part. Working with experts gives you the opportunity to set clear expectations for future behaviors and consequences.

  • You just want to fire the culprit. Starting the formal process of firing an employee may feel easier than giving her one more chance to correct the behavior or trying a different angle. The option of letting the person go is always there, but documenting your efforts to resolve the situation first is rarely a bad idea.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Vivian Scott is a Certified Mediator in private practice and a retired Microsoft marketing manager. She is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and volunteers as a mediator at the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties.

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