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How can I resolve conflict in the work place?

No matter how friendly or understanding your employees may be, conflict is always a possibility in the workplace. The truth is that everybody has their own sets of ideas, beliefs, and perspectives that help to shape who they are. When others have thoughts that come in conflict with those of another, issues are likely to arise.

While most often, these differences of opinion or ideas become resolved quickly, there are instances where they can result in worsening relationships over time. This can not only impact individuals but entire teams. This is why conflict resolution is such an essential piece for any successful business, something Steve Barker learned a great deal about during his time in the military. And where he learned of the 3E Principle which continues to have a dramatic impact in workplaces as it did in the military.


The most essential piece of resolving any conflict is establishing and understanding what the conflict is about. The two parties involved are having a disagreement about a particular issue, and you want to clearly establish facets have created the conflict. There may be instances where there is a simple misunderstanding of one person’s position by the other, something that can be easily resolved once clarity is established.

However, this is not always the case. To be able to resolve the matter and re-establish an optimal working relationship, it is important to create an understanding by both parties as to what created the disagreement. The goal is to remove any ambiguity, blame, or other barriers that can stand in the way of resolving the problem. This is often done by ensuring that each party clearly understands the position of the other and the further consequences of their actions.


Your next step is to explore the situation. This has several facets to it, including examining the feelings of each of the parties, discussing why each party has adopted their position and determining if any common ground can be found.
During this phase, one of the primary focuses is on finding common ground. While the two parties may have opposing points of view, it is also likely that they have areas of commonality as well. This is what you are looking to establish. Your job as a leader and mediator is to facilitate the dialogue with neutral tone and control over your body language.

In addition, you want to explore the feelings of each party while also validating these emotions. Each party is most likely to deeply feel entrenched in their viewpoint, and it’s your goal as leader to understand and help the parties reach a common ground.


At this point, you want to have the two parties work together to find solutions to resolve the problem. The best way to do this is to put the onus on each of the parties to figure out a way to resolve the issue based upon what they have heard from the other party.
To start this process, clear boundaries need to be established. This is not a simple matter of one party telling the other party what to do. Also, the emotions and ideals of the other party need to be considered. Let the parties continually discuss solutions back and forth, ensuring that there is cordial and respectful dialogue. 

While this is being undertaken, your role is to provide any clarity, additional staff or resources to the solution phase. And through these actions, the parties will develop their own solutions to the problem.

Conflict brings uncertainty, inefficiency, and reduced morale into the workplace. And it’s not often clear on what is the best approach to use. The 3E method is not an encompassing solution, but it demonstrates the importance of reaching common ground, mediating, and generating solutions.

Ready for More?

If you want to develop your conflict mediation skills, uncover methods and processes to resolve workplace relationships, and begin building a better team culture, relationships, and business efficiency, reach out to Steve Barker for Leadership Coaching. Head over to the services page for a list of our current offerings, or get in touch for a custom and bespoke solution.

Be sure to check out the blog, podcast, and resources page to see more leadership insights.

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