Group of colleagues standing around against backdrop of exposed brick wall and a fern, recovering from work conflict.
Image: © luckybusiness/

How to stay calm throughout a work conflict

12 Apr 2019

You can expect to encounter conflict in your professional life. It’s never pleasant, but it doesn’t have to send you on an emotional tailspin.

You’re not going to agree with everyone all the time, and that is especially true in a professional setting. Even the most harmonious and functional teams are bound to clash at one point or another.

Even if you normally can keep a cool head, work conflicts can feel all the more fraught. They are, after all, tied to your career and by extension your income.

So, the stakes always feel a little higher in a workplace setting. Of course it can elicit strong feelings. However, it is in your professional interest to make sure those feelings don’t overwhelm you.

The first step is to take a few deep, smooth, rhythmic breaths. You could even do a quick meditation before addressing the conflict to ensure you are as centred as possible. If you act during a work conflict while you’re still in the height of emotion, you may do something you regret or something that doesn’t represent your true, professional self.

Try to make sure your body language is non-confrontational, too. Relax your shoulders and neutralise your posture.

Ask your colleague about their point of view and actively listen to them. Often in conversation, people aren’t listening – they’re just waiting for their own chance to speak. While you may be keen to argue your side of the story, it’s vital that you hear your colleague out and truly understand their position. Ask open-ended questions to allow them to further expand on their view.

Doing all this will not only deepen your understanding of the situation, but will make it clear that you are trying to see their perspective. This gesture alone can go a long way towards diffusing conflict.

Make sure to lower your voice and keep your tone soft throughout this. Hopefully if you have successfully decompressed through your breathing earlier, this won’t be a problem.

To find out more tips on keeping a cool head during a work conflict, check out the infographic below, brought to you by CashNetUSA.

work conflict infographic

Click to enlarge. Infographic: CashNetUSA

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Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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