Image of angry woman warehouse workers in blue overalls with gloves A.R.M. action resource managementConflict resolution at work — If you have ever had a job, then you have probably also had a disagreement with a coworker. If it goes unresolved – you are still mad at them for never picking up after themselves, for example – the tension can become almost unbearable.

It can be a difficult situation, especially if you frequently work with the person you’ve had trouble with. Often chatter about the conflict makes its way around the workplace and the next thing you know, it’s become gossip. Don’t let it go that far! We have some tips for conflict resolution at work.


Image of warehouse worker man dressed in blue uniform leaning against boxes looking flustered or worried, with warehouse behind him A.R.M. action resource managementConflict resolution… in a warehouse

A warehouse workplace is different from most other work settings. In a warehouse setting, working as a team is so important that workplace safety depends upon it. Working as a team can only happen when all members of the team communicate with each other, follow safety and other guidelines, and avoid taking shortcuts.

Tension in the warehouse

In the warehouse, there are often physical, environmental, and interpersonal stressors. The most common causes of conflict in a warehouse operations work setting are:

  • Poor communication
  • Different work styles
  • Competition for resources
  • Personality clashes
  • Stress
Image of smiling warehouse packers as one of them is reaching across a box shaking someone's hand A.R.M. action resource managmentConflict Resolution at Work

There are many ways to deal with workplace conflict, and sometimes they don’t match. Misunderstandings due to cultural differences, for example, might need a third party to interpret either language or cultural norms. Language barriers are also responsible for some workplace conflicts – both parties become frustrated because they are unable to communicate properly. Conflict resolution at work may again call for a third party to help both people to understand and to create a system for better communication with that person in the future.

C  O  N  F  L  I  C  T   R  E  S  O  L  U  T  I  O  N   A  T   W  O  R  K

Strategies to deal with coworker conflicts:
  • Don’t gossip! That includes the conflict – keep it to only the people necessary. Talking about your coworker behind their back can make it even harder to repair the situation. Stay calm, keep your emotions out of it, and find a constructive solution.
  • Deal with the conflict sooner rather than later. Putting it off can make it even harder to address, as well as give you a sense of dread. Take a deep breath and, once you’ve got a solution in mind, approach your coworker respectfully and calmly.
  • Eye-to-eye. Just talk to the person face-to-face. Text and email can both be misunderstood and misinterpreted. The other person may “hear” your words in an angry tone in their mind. You’ve got your constructive solution and you’re open-minded, so meet in person, where you can both observe body language, tone of voice, and eye contact as you each convey your messages and listen to the other.
  • Look for similarities. You can focus on disagreements and differences (“the negatives”) or you can find a place to meet away from that negativity. Find a common ground, like shared interests, goals, or values. In this way, you will build rapport and empathy and minimize hostility.
Stay calm and communicate
  • Image of two warehouse workers, both in yellow safety vests and hard hats, arguing or disagreeing conflict resolution A.R.M. action resource managementOpen your ears… and your mind. Listen to the other person, don’t interrupt, and understand how they feel about the conflict. Keep an open mind and listen.
  • Stay calm and speak. Take a deep breath and, without using blaming, aggressive, or sarcastic words, express your feelings and needs. Use “I” statements, such as “I feel frustrated when I have to clean up after you,” instead of “You never do your job and you always leave a mess.”
  • Call for help. Sometimes you need to call in a third party – if it seems like that’s the case, move forward to get the third party involved rather than put it off. That third party might be a supervisor, manager, or someone from the human resources office, but whoever it is, seek that assistance. They can provide an objective perspective and help you and your coworker talk about the conflict
  • Always learn! Take the opportunity to learn from the conflict and the resolution. If you approach it with respect and openness, the conflict can actually provide an opportunity for growth and learning. You can reflect on what caused the conflict, how you handled it, what you learned from it, and what you can do differently in the future.

Learn more about conflict resolution from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Image of smiling warehouse woman with yellow safety vest and white hardhat, seated on forklift A.R.M. action resource managementFinal thoughts – conflict resolution at work

Communication is a key part of avoiding conflicts in the first place. Ask for help when a translator of language and/or culture or a mediator could clear up the misunderstanding.

Remember, if your place of work already has a system to deal with conflict in the workplace please follow those guidelines. As always, stay safe out there!





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