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6 Steps to Problem Resolution When You Don’t See Eye-to-Eye

You’ve probably heard about what’s being dubbed “the dress that broke the Internet,” a dual-colored dress featured in a Twitter photograph that has some seeing black and blue, and others seeing white and gold.  While this may seem like a superfluous argument, this type of “only one of us can be correct” argument occurs all the time in the workplace.  Here’s how to resolve a conflict when you’re directly at odds with a coworker.

1.       Understand the situation.

Miscommunication and misunderstandings can quickly lead to unnecessary frustration and conflict.  Before delving further into a conflict, make sure that you’re both on the same page.  Try diffusing techniques such as statements like “Let’s take a step back for a second.”  Then, ask clarifying questions and outline the opposing arguments before moving forward.

2.      Set aside time to resolve the issue.

Rushing to achieve a resolution will result in a quick fix rather than a long-term solution.  If you’re unable to reach a compromise quickly and easily, there’s nothing wrong with letting things go now and returning to the discussion later.  Plus, downtime may allow both people to rethink their stances and whether the issue is as big of a deal as they had previously thought.   

3.      Differentiate between the person and the problem.

Sometimes we treat a problem more harshly when we don’t care for the person on the other side of the issue.  Separating your issues with that person from the conflict at hand is the only way to respond with an unbiased attitude.

4.      Keep a cool head.

It’s easy to get angry or passionate when arguing over a project that’s taken hours of your time, but when you feel yourself heating up, just remember that bringing emotions into the picture only derails mediation and that the argument is professional, not personal.  Stay as cool as possible, and ask your coworker to do the same. 

5.      Talk things over and make a decision.

Discuss both sides of the issues and make compromises when possible.  Ultimately, it’s important to come to a decision rather than leaving things unresolved.

6.      Bring in help if necessary.

If you’re unable to reach a compromise or any sort of resolution, it may be time to bring in outside help such as an experienced manager or someone without a vested interest in the argument in order to gain a fresh, untainted perspective.