How to Handle a Verbal Altercation Between Employees

While leaders would rather no conflict ever occur between employees, it is bound to happen on occasion. You need to learn to effectively manage verbal altercations among workers. Resist the temptation to ignore a negative event and, instead, treat it as a challenge that can potentially improve communication and teamwork. Follow these steps to handle a human relations problem.

1. Allow for a “cool off” period in which you separate the workers. This provides a time for emotions to settle so that rational thinking and appropriate behavior results.

2. Ask each participant in the altercation to write an account of the event. This forces your team members to reflect on exactly what happened and gives them a chance to vent their feelings before conversing again.

3. Compare the written testimonies. Pose questions when you need clarification. Host a mediation meeting once you have a clear understanding of the incident.

4. Guide the employees in a discussion about what occurred. Insist on active listening in which everyone concentrates solely on the other person’s words. Ask the employees to repeat back what they hear in their own words to ensure each person is properly understood.

5. Involve the workers in seeking a resolution. Brainstorm together to discover a solution that is satisfactory. It is okay if there are points about which the employees decide to “agree to disagree” as long as they can move on from that conclusion.

6. Observe the behavior of the involved staff members in the weeks to come. Follow up with them on how they are feeling and acting. Bring them back together to further communicate if tensions remain. Make sure the plan of action decided upon actually occurs and succeeds.

The more effective you become at handling the disagreements of your employees, the stronger your company becomes. Remember always that communication is the most important element when you work together to solve problems.