Conflict Management: 7 Strategies to Mediate like a Pro

To be on the same page, we need to be in the same book – Rahul Guhathakurta


lot of things a project manager does are tough. Among the toughest is stopping a brawl from erupting when things get stressful. Everyone reacts to pressure differently. Every single one of your team members comes from a different background and has a different box of assorted tools and coping skills. So what can you do to make sure everyone is on the same page?

1. Take on a Little More Responsibility

You don’t want everyone to feel like they’re drowning – they’ll all shout out for help at the same time and feel awfully angry if they don’t get it. If everyone is overwhelmed and bickering over the sheer amount of things that need to get done before the deadline, pick up some of the slack. Offer to do more to help, or hire someone who is better suited to the nuances of a complicated task.

2. Reinforce Everyone’s Roles

Who is supposed to be doing what? Is the conflict coming from the fact that no one is really sure what their tasks are? Empower your team members to their strengths and learn how to delegate tasks to make the most of your team’s individual talents. If Jen can draft an email way better than Emily can, and Emily can do a cost analysis way better than Jen, make sure they aren’t doing each other’s jobs.

3. Celebrate When You Need To

Sometimes, people just need a break. If a constant “go go go” attitude is starting to chip away at everyone’s happiness, they’re bound to be a little more abrasive with each other. Make sure you’re celebrating successes, no matter how small they are, to remind them that they deserve to step back and be proud of their accomplishments once in a while.

4. Find the Root

Steven and Annie don’t get along, and it can’t be because of the placement of a staple on a stack of documents. Having Michael staple the documents from now on isn’t going to fix the problem because the staple isn’t really what went wrong. Look for the root causes of problems and solve them at their core. Covering up the symptoms won’t do anyone any good.

5. Take People Aside

What people are willing to say in a group is always wildly different from what they’re willing to say in private. It’s not necessary because of gossip, but because people don’t want to start larger conflicts at work by speaking candidly. Speaking to people individually and in private can help you craft a blameless solution that will allow everyone to get right back to work the moment it’s implemented.

6. Allow More Time for Speaking

A communication breakdown may be responsible for little tiffs that keep popping up. Hold a meeting just for the same of holding a meeting. Encourage people to voice their concerns, ideas, and innovations. Give everyone an opportunity to create their own mind maps, so they can use them to effectively communicate what their personal vision for a situation is. It will serve as a team bonding exercise, and I might actually make everyone a little more productive than they were before.

7. Walk Away For a While

Ignoring something and hoping it goes away will never be an effective solution to a problem. Clearing your head and taking a moment to objectively work through what went wrong and how to fix it is the perfect solution to anything. Don’t make any hasty decisions – take a day to consider all of the variables and come up with a solution that boasts long-term potential.
It’s important to remember that the way you respond is just as important as your actual solution. Leading by example, rather than throwing the weight of your role around, is always more likely to give you a better outcome.


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