Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Calming a Storm

If you’re successfully engaging your employees, it is inevitable that small conflicts will arise. It might be tempting to see these conflicts as a negative. In truth, if they are allowed to rage out of control, they will have negative effects.  However, the fact that people are engaged enough to get angry or tense shows that they are employing their creative energies, and that is a positive. Nevertheless, when tempers flare, it takes a calm leader to be the eye of the storm and channel that energy in positive ways or calm it so that employees can function productively. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Always address conflicts from a place of calm. You may have to take a time-out or allow others to take a time-out from their own anger. Try to do so from a place of empathy and understanding. Avoid calling out employees in front of others. For example, when two employees are in conflict with each other, send one of them on a break while you discuss the situation with the other. Be sure to give each employee the chance to tell their side of the conflict, and make sure you listen more than you talk.
  • When you speak to your employees about conflicts, make sure you are specific and address the issue in terms of behavior and not in terms of the employee’s character traits.
  • Discuss how the conflict affects the rest of your team, but avoid doing so with an accusatory tone.
  • Allow employees to give you their understanding of what caused the conflict rather than identifying the cause yourself.
  • Allow employees to suggest solutions for resolving the conflict. If necessary and appropriate, act as a mediator between two employees who have had a conflict with each other. Be sure that each is coming from a place of calm.
  • Allow everyone involved to agree upon the appropriate action to take in order to restore the peace.
  • Most importantly, communicate from a place of mutual respect for all parties involved. Often in the aftermath of a conflict, the parties involved may feel either embarrassment or resentment toward the other party. Help to restore the sense of mutual respect by treating all parties with the same degree of respect, regardless of any perception of level of fault or culpability.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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