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Resolving Coworker Conflict: Work Individually First

“When co-workers can’t get along, should I work with them individually or bring them together?” This is a question managers, supervisors and HR professionals deal with frequently.

Time pressures and the need to resolve the problem encourage us to get the parties together right away. And while this strategy is tempting, it often makes matters worse, because the parties don’t yet have the skills or perspective they need to be open to any view but their own.

Each individual pushes to have their perspective acknowledged. No one listens. Emotions run high. And the problem escalates. This is especially true if the conflict has a long history. Each party has fine-tuned their narrative about why the other person is the problem.

Entering and Blending

This post introduces the second of five videos that explore the content of my new book — Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace. The video addresses this question and suggests the way to workplace harmony is by working with the parties individually first.

This section of the book — “Phase 2 Entering and Blending” — helps the reader discover how to nonjudgmentally listen to each person tell their story so they can release the pent up energy behind it. The book also describes how to teach skills the parties will need to resolve the conflict when you do bring them together, such as developing curiosity, listening skills, and ways to advocate for what’s important to them.

In the book, you’ll learn to empower your employees to work out their differences and create a workplace that is peaceful and cooperative. The five videos offer a preview, so you can decide if the book is for you.

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