WNA Blog

Sun 28 Aug 2016

Managing Conflict in the Workplace: How Women Do It?


Business Consulting & Coaching

Workplaces are becoming increasingly more fast-pasted and globalized, which increases the opportunities for professional development, but also increases the likelihood that conflicts will occur within the workplace. Conflicts are difficult challenges women face in the workplace because of how men and women approach conflict situations. But there are constructive ways that conflict can be managed and diffused so that co-workers can reach a mutual understanding.

Conflict Hurts Women More Than Men

Conflict has been found to hurt women more than men. However, it is not the conflict itself that hurts women more. Rather, it is the perception of the conflict. This is because conflicts between women in the workplace is perceived as affecting job satisfaction more negatively than conflicts between men. Also, men are seen as being more likely to repair damaged relationships than women when managing conflict in the workplace.

Avoid Gossiping Or Backbiting

It is a good idea to avoid engaging in behaviours that could potentially lead to common workplace conflicts. Whenever possible, avoid backbiting and gossiping since these behaviors may reach the wrong ears and may lead to conflict in the future.

Remember That Workplace Conflict Is Inevitable

While it is good to take steps to minimize the risk of conflict, keep in mind that it is unlikely that you will be able to ever entirely avoid conflict. Therefore, you should have a plan for how to diffuse conflict or make it more productive when it does arise. Energy should not be wasted on ruminating over a potential conflict that may occur. Difficult interpersonal situations also should not be ignored because they will not disappear by simply being ignored.

Conflict Avoidance Is Not The Solution

You may choose conflict avoidance strategies because you are concerned that you will otherwise be seen as aggressive and confrontational. However, this may interfere with your ability to be competitive in the workplace and to assert yourself. While you may think conflict can hurt your chances of advancement, avoiding conflict might actually have this affect instead. Instead, learn staff conflict resolution strategies.

Don’t Take Work Personally

Try to avoid taking the decisions that you make personally. For example, if you are told that you have done something wrong, it is best to compartmentalize business and personal relationships. Do not assume that you are being criticized because your boss has a problem with you personally.

How To Deal With Bullying At Work: Take The Moral High Ground

Whenever possible, try to maintain the moral high ground. Do not lose control and do not give into the temptation to retaliate for a wrongdoing. However, you will also want to talk to HR to determine whether your co-worker’s actions require a response from upper management.

Get To Know The Right People

Try to get to know other women in the workplace. You may feel like gravitating toward the men in the workplace to escape being judged as much, but this is more likely to lead to further judgement from colleagues.

Talk with your HR department to determine whether they will be helpful as you attempt to resolve conflicts. HR departments are often neutral third-party observers in what are often very personal conflicts. HR can allow you to determine whether the conflict can be considered normal or if it constitutes harassment or may even be the grounds for a lawsuit. Obviously, a conflict that involves workplace injury would deserve special attention, for example.

If you feel that you are stuck, it will ultimately come down to figuring out how to change how you approach each work day. But you will be able to manage your workplace conflicts in a more productive manner as you become conscious of your daily decisions and make small improvements.


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