As our very own Taylor Hill put it: some people are like cats, some people are like dogs. And cats and dogs have different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different ways of thinking, and different ways of handling things. But what happens when these differences lead to interoffice conflicts? As the leader of your business, what do you do when employees on your team are fighting like cats and dogs?

5 Tips for Handling Interoffice Conflict:

#1 Address each individual involved, separately and privately – Every story has two (or more) sides, and you need to have private, one-on-one discussions to get the full scope of the problem at hand. Addressing each person individually will also help to keep the conversation cool and open.

#2 Verbalize the problem & the reason it’s a problem – Even though the problem might be clear to you, when emotions are high, it can be difficult to zoom out and really pinpoint the true issue at hand. When you verbalize the problem and the reason it’s a problem, you give the gift of clarity to those involved, saving time, ensuring everyone is on the same page, and helping get to the heart of the matter faster.

#3 Avoid accusatory language – Ultimately, you want to help everyone move towards a peaceful resolution so they can continue to work together in the future, and the only way to do that is to have open communication. When accusatory language is used, the individuals involved will feel personally attacked, which isn’t conducive to openness and growth. Stay focused and clear everything out of your mind but the problem at hand. Avoid bringing past situations or issues with the individual back up as a sort of “list of grievances.” Remember, you’re here to solve this problem – and if the individual feels personally attacked, they are likely to shut down instead of working with you to resolve this issue.

#4 Listen – Pay careful attention to the wording used by the individuals. It may come out that one of the involved individuals is having trouble outside of the workplace and a comment or tone was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. As the leader of your company, it’s important to remember that we all have a life outside of work, and sometimes outside issues can bleed into our 9-5. If you’re not listening, you could miss something crucial and overlook a key contributor to the conflict.

#5 Act fast – Whatever you do, don’t let a problem escalate by ignoring it or letting too much time pass before addressing it. Nip it in the bud! If any of the involved parties need a minute to cool off, that’s one thing – but ignoring it is not an option. As the leader of your company, you have to show your employees how you’d like to have conflict handled: quickly and cooly. Be an example.

Ok, so now that you have the tools to mediate and diffuse interoffice conflict, what you can do to prevent it altogether?

2 Tips for Preventing Interoffice Conflict:

#1 Foster a respectful company culture – One of the things we all love about being a part of the team here at Spark Marketer is the company culture. Our leaders have made it very clear to each and every one of us that, no matter what is going on, we are to respect each other, PERIOD. And we do! We have several different personality types with several different innate communication styles, and enough sarcasm to make Lewis Black look like the Pope. But another thing we aren’t lacking in is true respect and appreciation for each other. Sure, we joke around and we’re pretty laid back, but coarse jesting and passive aggressive, intentionally hurtful remarks are 100% absent from our work environment.

#2 Encourage communication – Oftentimes, interoffice conflict arises as a result of miscommunication, poor communication, or a complete lack of communication. The more you do to prevent communication breakdown, the less you’ll need to worry about office conflicts. Encourage your employees to develop systems for communicating, and to be open, direct, and polite about it. But remember, communication isn’t everyone’s strong point – be mindful of which employees might need a little push and direction, and give them a little nudge when they need it. With time, your guidance, and a little positive reinforcement when you notice them exhibiting excellent communication skills, it’ll only become more and more natural. The good news is: once your company culture is in place and your employees start working on open communication, for the most part, they should keep the peace for you.

Peace be with you!