How to Resolve Conflict with A Colleague

 In Conflict Resolution

With around one-third of your life being spent at work(1), it’s important to ensure that time is as happy and productive as possible. A large portion of that happiness can be attributed to the positive relationships with co-workers. Like every other relationship, you are bound to experience ups and downs with your colleagues as well – it’s only natural. However, if you and your colleague have a disagreement, you might want to handle it a little differently than when you have a fight with a friend.

Here are some tips on how to handle conflict with colleagues from Resolution Education. We have years of experience in training people in conflict resolution and how to resolve conflict, how to deal with conflict and how to manage conflict.

Do not engage in office gossip

Gossip and rumours in the office never end well.

For one thing, you don’t know how your office version of Chinese whispers will end up twisting your words in the end. You might say something in the heat of the moment you do not mean and later regret it, but by then, it is all over the office.

You might develop the reputation of being a back-stabber leading to people not trusting you. Whatever it may be, nothing good will come out of complaining to your other co-workers. By doing this, you will also be putting them in a difficult spot because all of you will have to continue to work together.

Don’t Delay Addressing the Problem

The longer you let negative feelings simmer, the worse it will get. Having unresolved negative feelings towards a co-worker can create tension in the workplace and lead to a hostile work environment that you will begin to dread.

Talk It Out in Person

It is always best to work through issues in person rather than over email or text. Non-verbal communication can lead to many things getting lost in translation, leading to further misunderstandings.

Make sure you do not catch them off guard or use a less-than-polite tone. You do not want them to become defensive (or offensive) because that will just further aggravate the situation.

Find Common Ground

Instead of starting the conversation by directly addressing your problem areas, try opening with a common ground. It will help you connect with your colleague and make both of you feel like you’re on the same team. When they speak, listen to them with an open mind and try to empathise.

In return, ask them to look at things from your perspective as well. Even if you share personal differences with a co-worker, they should be kept separate from your professional relationship. You do not have to like everyone, but you need to respect others on your team to have a healthy environment to work.

Know When to Call in Reinforcements

Some things are bigger than what you can handle, so if you think you cannot do anything to help the situation anymore, involve a third party like the manager or team leader.  However, it would help if you differentiated normal conflict from harassment or discrimination of any kind. Those issues should be brought to HR and/or management straight away without you even needing to get involved.

Follow your organisation’s conflict resolution policies

Each company should have policies on how to deal with this type of behaviour and following each step will assist employees with the resolution required. If your company does not have a policy, we are happy to provide these types of policies at Resolution Education

A conflict can arise in any situation, but knowing how to resolve workplace issues is a crucial part of your overall work experience. If you feel like you are in way over your head, it might be helpful to seek help from a professional that can help mediate the situation and come up with tangible solutions.

Resolution Education specialises in training programs for dealing with conflict. Regardless of your industry, we can train you on how to deal with aggressive people at work and resolve your conflicts amicably. You can find out about our conflict resolution training or call us at 1300 884 589 for more information.


  1. 90,000 hours at work
  2. Handle conflict with workers