3 Ways to Defuse Workplace Tensions

It’s all too common in the modern workplace that teams are disrupted by inevitable disagreements and clashes of personality. A critical element of a manager’s job is to build and maintain a teamwork mentality, encouraging collaboration and problem solving, even when tensions run high. Today’s article discusses three actionable strategies for defusing workplace tensions, focusing on teamwork, and staying productive.

Suggest a Different Perspective

If an employee comes to you with a concern about the actions or behaviors of another employee, rather than playing one side against the other, encourage each side to try to look at the disagreement from the other person’s point of view. The act of viewing the situation from another perspective can increase understanding and empathy for the other team member and result in more openness to compromise. Acknowledge that every staff member brings unique experiences and perspectives to the table and the value of a team is in everyone’s ability to contribute in their own way. Engage your employees in an honest discussion about their disagreement and work with them to see things from the perspective of the other person.

Encourage a Positive Attitude

Workplace tensions are more easily dispelled when there is an overall culture of positivity within the team. A positive outlook and good motivation will help avoid the sort of disagreements that will bring work to a standstill. By encouraging positivity, you are also encouraging productivity. You can do this by leading by example and maintaining a good attitude yourself. Encourage team members who have had a disagreement in the past to not hold grudges and move forward to a better relationship. Team-building exercises are another way to help your staff members get to know each other and feel more supported in their efforts to work together. Morale-building events are another way to boost positive energy in a group. If your staff feels happy about their work, about how the company and their leadership values their efforts, and overall engaged within the greater context of their team environment, then they will be better able to maintain a culture of positivity and productivity.

Engage a Neutral Party

If a disagreement goes too far that general advice from you is no longer enough to dispel the tension, then it is likely time to engage a neutral third party to facilitate such discussions. If your company has a human resources department, they are a natural choice to mediate conflict in a professional and lawful manner.  If your company does not have a strong human resources team, requesting assistance from an outside party, one that is completely neutral, may also be a good option. First, evaluate and outline what you and the conflicting parties want to get out of such a mediation, and work with an outside partner to meet those goals. The peace and release of tensions brought about by such interventions can do wonders for the long-term success and collaboration skills of your team.

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