If you’ve been running your business for some time now, there’s one thing that you’ve seen one time or another in your office – conflict.

Conflicts often arise from miscommunication, differing opinions on how something should be done and power struggles.

If not dealt with quickly, hidden conflicts can surface and lead to full on face-to-face confrontations and sabotage relationships and teamwork camaraderie you’ve worked so hard on to foster in your company.

Here are 3 ways to tackle conflict and nip it in the bud before the situation gets out of control:

  1. Keep your composure and don’t take sides

As a leader the last thing you want to do is join the fight or take sides. Act calm and speak in a normal but firm tone. Don’t let your own feelings get in the way. Don’t pass judgment; simply listen and empathize with both parties. Use words such us, “I can understand why you feel that way.”

Placing the blame or accusing someone will only increase the tension and take you further away from resolving the issue at hand. If you are at the receiving end of a confrontation, pause before you speak. This will help dissolve some of the anger and irritation, giving you time to best frame your response.

  1. Listen and be patient

Sometimes all people want is for someone to listen and hear them out. Listen to each side’s story without interrupting. Show that you are genuinely interested by asking questions and clarifying details.

Be patient. At times people are generally a lot calmer (and easier to reason with), once they have vented and had their say. Once you notice the tension easing up a bit you can offer suggestions and feedback to resolve the issue in a civilized manner.

  1. Foster trust and relationship building

Conflict can actually be healthy for your firm, especially when it comes to coming up with new ideas and innovation.

A recent study from Charlan Nemeth at UC Berkeley, and the practices of outstandingly creative firms like Xerox PARC and Pixar, suggest that conflict isn’t something to be reduced. In fact, regular, structured fighting may be one of the single most important ingredients in the ideation process.

The key is to encourage healthy conflict while keeping unhealthy conflict at bay. Encourage team building activities, periodical office parties and occasional lunch meetings to encourage team networking and diffuse the tension.

­By keeping your cool and instilling these steps you can build a culture of cooperation and healthy conflict for continued business success.

How have you dealt with conflict in your business? Let us know in the comments below.