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September 5, 2013

How to Clear the Air after a Conflict

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. People bring different preferences, expectations, and styles to the office. No matter how strong your team is, there will be times when people face off on opposite sides of a situation.shutterstock_48944713

When people are under deadline to produce results, tensions can mount, tempers flare, and things may be said in ways that offend. Even after everyone apologizes, there can be “hard feelings”—resentments that prevent people from moving forward productively.

Here are some tools to help clear the air after a conflict:

  • Be objective. Put yourself in the other person’s position and honestly acknowledge how you are contributing to continued tension.
  • Meet with the other person. Choose a neutral place outside the office. Depending on your previous relationship with him or her, go for coffee, meet at a park bench, have lunch. Do something that creates a more relaxed environment.
  • Be honest and forthcoming. Explain how you feel and your desire to mend the relationship.
  • Focus on specifics. Ask the other person for specifics about their perception of the situation and your behavior. Their perception is their reality. It may not be yours. Remember, neither of you are right—or wrong! Whatever the person’s response, stay calm and cool. Your goal is to mend the relationship, not start the conflict over again. See my blog post How to Stay Calm with Upset Employees.

These tips can go a long way toward clearing the air after a conflict. Allow for some time to pass, and if you still feel that the relationship needs work, consider asking a neutral third party to step in.


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