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Build Empathy in the Workplace and Reduce Conflict

Empathy in the Workplace Can Reduce or Stop Conflicts 

It’s safe to conclude that some conflict in the workplace is inevitable. 

Human beings have unique and individual perspectives and vulnerabilities. We have good days and not so good days. As long as we continue to fill roles in organizations, there is potential that something we do will make someone else unhappy. And, of course, the other way round: a colleague doing something upsetting to us.

Workplaces are especially delicate ecosystems. 

One rogue moody person’s behavior can have trickle-down consequences throughout a team’s general attitude over a day. And this is likely to spill into the next day, perhaps the future entirely. And let’s face it, it does not take much for morale to nosedive when negative, positional stances become the norm between colleagues. 

Proactive Socialization

One of the most effective tools in any organization’s conflict-resolution toolbox is being pro-active.

In other words, taking preventative measures to minimize workplace conflict can nip things in the bud before they have an opportunity to escalate. Like most successful relationships (and what’s an organization but one substantial relationship), it should feel intuitive to spot problems and amicably see things from the other’s perspective. 

One effective conflict-prevention measure any organization can offer its employees is regular opportunities to nurture valuable social interactions. We can create social platforms for the advantage of each employee.

What could that look like?

It can look like a lot of things. For instance, you might have weekly staff lunches or monthly team-building exercises — even weekend events where co-workers have a chance to socialize with each other outside of the office environment. The important thing is that all of these social opportunities be mandatory and consistent. You can switch things up, but the benefits will always be the same: co-workers and colleagues whose understanding and comfort of each becomes more vibrant and multi-dimensional. No to mention professional relationships that are more resilient and equipped to weather storms.

The gist of these socialization exercises is creating quality time that focuses on individuals. You are offering opportunities for staff and management to socialize with each other habitually. Employees getting to know more than the basics about each other’s lives can do wonders to humanize a workplace. This quality personal time has an uncanny ability to prevent conflict down the road. 

Time to Mingle

A workplace where staff know each other well, converse, and mingle regularly has found the secret ingredient to a harmonious workplace. It might seem basic, but offering employees time to get to know each other on a personal level (families, neighborhoods, backgrounds, etc.) goes a long way toward creating trust and a sense of camaraderie in a team. Something as simple as connecting over a pizza with colleagues will build trust and positive bias. Empathy in the workplace becomes a side benefit.

An established familiarity and amicable relationship will undoubtedly help in equipping a team with at least the right attitude, and a desire to resolve any misunderstanding that may spring up down the road.

It Takes Work For Things To Seem Simple

Relationships that thrive seem effortless, but a lot of work goes into them. When co-workers feel comfortable around one another, they are motivated to seek resolutions. Healthy disagreements are opportunities to develop and strengthen relationships. We all have different viewpoints, and it’s wrong to add more value and weight to an individual’s agenda over another. Working together to sort out differences presents opportunities to be empathetic and see things from the other side. Much of this is only possible when the foundation has strengthened through socialization.

Socialization Creates Empathy In The Workplace

Empathy is the ability to understand each other’s feelings. Not just through speaking with each other, but also via cues that aren’t necessarily verbal. And none of this is possible without having had opportunities to spend substantive moments with the people we work with daily. Too often, the staff is virtual strangers to each other, which is a recipe for poor relations when conflicts arise.

Workplaces that invest in employee socialization are workplaces that benefit from the very empathy socialization creates. We listen better to people we know well. We are more inclined to put ourselves in their shoes when we have regularly taken the time to socialize and converse with them.

Get Training to Build Effective Socialization Strategies

A workplace that struggles with conflict is a workplace that has not invested enough in regular, ongoing relationship building. Managers and senior staff struggling with workplace conflict should enroll in training programs to assist them in creating effective socialization strategies.  

Go on – order pizza for the team and see what happens.

2019-12-17T20:33:32-08:00

About the Author:

Phil Eastwood is a former London Bobby who brings a thirty-five year career in policing to his role as Senior Partner of Fiore Group Training, a recognized leader in training top North American organizations. Phil is lead author of workplace training courses in respectful workplace training, workplace violence employee training, and leadership training seminars.