What Is Workplace Conflict Resolution Training?

Workplace conflict resolution training is the way in which we learn how to neutralize difficult situations, support differences in opinion, embolden communication, and mediate disagreements in the workplace in healthy ways.

Why Is Workplace Conflict Resolution Training Important?

There are many reasons why the ability to manage workplace disagreements is important. We need to manage difficulties in healthy ways while getting real about why discord exists.

  • Stuff happens. At its core, workplace conflict resolution training is important because, well, disagreements happen. In our professional careers, the innate desire to be respected goes along with the need to be agreed with. When we share anything—solutions, opinions, or assessments—it is okay to want to be heard, but inherently, we all want to be right. “We human beings all want to know that we’re acceptable.” (Fred Rogers).
  • Authenticity. There are many ways to resolve most matters, and being able to articulate different opinions in healthy and constructive ways allows for the free sharing of information. Much of our wisdom comes from who we are internally and what we experience outside of work. Career influencers regularly share the importance of “authentic self.” Our differences, when recognized in a healthy way, create more rewarding environments.
  • Workplace harmony. The ability to arrive at a resolution restores the harmony, or at least decreases the disruption that conflict creates. Emotions have a direct impact on how well we work. A survey conducted by Quantum Workplace (via the Future of Work Emotions in the Workplace) found that the top three emotions that impact people at work are being comfortable, satisfied and enthusiastic. Conflict is naturally uncomfortable. For that reason alone, it is extremely important to understand our role in how to neutralize conflict and how we arrive at a healthy place after experiencing it.

Types of Workplace Conflict Resolution Training

There are a few ways to go about conflict resolution training. Solutions should be tailored, though. You want to ensure that your audience can embrace the training and apply it. To do that, your personnel need to feel connected to it.

Instructor-Led Training

Seminars are usually delivered in a scholarly manner to a fair-sized group instructed by a professional trained in a particular specialty.

Many times, seminars allow for interactive discussions and/or demonstrations, but they are not personal and generally cover subject matter in a broader sense.

Direct training, or courses delivered in person or remotely, allow for more personalized experiences. Often the groups are smaller, and they can feel even more intimate when delivered away from the usual workplace. Direct trainings sometimes ask participants to take a test afterwards to prove how well they’ve digested the material.

Mediation

Mediation involves using a neutral third party to negotiate between people in conflict. Usually both parties agree beforehand to comply with the outcome. It is “training in action” and is more real life than watching rehearsed scenarios, as it directly involves the parties of an active dispute. Working with a mediator is another method of training on workplace resolution because during the process, you’ll learn many important pieces of conflict resolution, including empathy-building. Empathy doesn’t mean you agree with the feelings of others, but does mean you are able to understand them. Many organizations that promote mediation require their employees to sign a certificate confirming they’ve attended.

One-on-Ones

One-on-ones with a designated professional can help those engaged in conflict in a more personal setting. Without the presence of large groups or the person you’re in dispute with, you can learn how you personally can de-escalate situations or manage your feelings. A lot of conflicts arise from how we interpret or view interaction. By working with someone to help adjust or open your worldview, you may become able to respond without emotion to a company matter, focusing solely on outcomes and productivity. Learning to “check yourself before you wreck yourself” is good for your health.

Components of Workplace Conflict Resolution Training

Whatever method you use in workplace conflict resolution training, you will want to ensure it’s comprehensive and meets the need. The best trainings feature the following items.

Clear Guidelines

Ambiguity has no place in helping people learn to de-escalate conflict. You need not just the method of delivering your message but also the expectation to adherence as an employer to be very clear. The clearer the guidance, the more repeatable and distributable it is. Clearly articulating your company’s stance is key to ensuring compliance with policy.

Conflict-Specific

Make sure your tools are not deployed in a one-size-fits-all way. There is no one way to resolve all matters, and approaches need to relate to your circumstance. In other words, if your conflict arises out of what to do with a budget, the tools you use to help arrive at a consensus wouldn’t be the same for a conflict regarding lunch breaks.

Effective Tools and Resources

Provide personnel material they can refer to. Reference documents and tools (i.e., online resources like videos) help retrain and therefore reinforce the learning.

Simplicity

To be successful and to further the company’s position, all components of your training need to be accessible, repeatable, relatable and convenient.

Tips for Running a Workplace Conflict Resolution Training

The following tips serve as guidance for how to manage workplace conflict resolution training.

Tip 1: Ensure Understanding

Let employees know that you understand disagreements happen. People are more apt to attend trainings like these when there is no shame in attending and all parties understand the value of the training.

Tip 2: Ensure Accessibility

For your training to be deliverable to the organization as a whole, you need to consider your workers, their locations, and any barriers they may have to get to or access your training.

Tip 3: Ensure Equity

The way in which you “resolve” a conflict may differ and be specific to the situation. However, the way you train your workplace must be free from biases of any sort.

Tip 4: Safety

Deliver training in a manner that fits the audience, the organization’s values and principals, creates a sense of safety, and ensures that everyone is held to specific standards in the environment. This better fosters teachable moments that support everyone as equally as possible.