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Hey Managers! Build trust to resolve conflict.

Workplace cultures that are generally supportive and collaborative usually have fewer conflicts - because they approach disagreements as opportunities to innovate, converse, connect, and build something new. 

Usually that's easier said than done, but an essential element is to build trust on your team. 

Building trust within your team, no matter the larger culture in which you work, goes a long way toward preventing conflicts on the team.

  • If you're new to managing this team, it can be relatively easy to build trust:

    • get to know your team members;

    • find excuses to share fun, light-hearted moments with them;

    • say a heartfelt “thank you” for specific actions whenever you can;

    • and, follow through on whatever plans or promises you may make to them.

  • If you can’t follow through, or if you’re finding that on stressful days you are a bit less nice than you would want to be - just be authentic. Let the team know that you’re having a tough day, or that something changed and so what you said would happen now has to not happen.

    • The more honest you are, the more they will trust you!

The most important piece might be this: TRUST THEM and they will be more likely to trust you. 

The more you second-guess people, the more they will second-guess you. 

It's also important to be aware of your preferred approach to conflict. There are formal assessments you can take. You can also engage in some (free) self-reflection: Do you typically...

  • Love to win arguments? 
  • Love to avoid arguments?
  • Prefer to give in to whatever the other person wants?
  • Prefer to figure out the middle ground and make that be the result?
  • Want to co-create some new thing, a third option that hasn't been part of the argument yet? 

See a visual of these approaches.

Each of these approaches can be the best approach in different situations. 

Often, understanding the root of the disagreement can help you figure out how to move forward. Is the disagreement about:

  • Information or data?
  • Structures or resources?
  • Interests? (personalities, what people find important, approaches to problems)
  • Relationships? (miscommunication falls here)
  • Or, often the toughest to resolve - values? 

No matter what the source of the disagreement is, if the parties trust each other - and trust you - it'll be easier to deal with the conflict. If trust is low, you may want to bring in someone considered "neutral" - likely this will mean hiring a contract mediator, though, in some cases, it may be as simple as bringing in someone the parties know and trust who's not a part of your department or not a part of their daily work routines.

Outside of the conflict, do what you can to build trust to lay a better foundation for future conflicts. Teambuilding activities can help, but simply being authentic and considerate - and extending trust to others - will help to foster a more trusting environment for your team. 


Yes, we offer mediation and teambuilding services - learn more or schedule a free consultation. 


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