Every situation involving a group of people will have conflicts arise from time to time. You must be able to manage them before they evolve into a bigger problem. Here are some tips from Loretta Leman in charge of staff development for Swine Graphics Enterprises, on how to address conflicts.

1. Be alert to signs of unresolved issues. Signs may include sarcasm, hostility, silence, rumors, bad feelings declining productivity, absences or avoidance behaviors.

2. Acknowledge known conflict promptly and up front. Do not procrastinate. Conflicts rarely improve with time; instead they polarize. When you are first aware of a conflict, call a meeting with those involved.

3. If you tend to avoid conflict, make a commitment to change your approach. Most people are uncomfortable with conflict and are afraid to address it. Work to understand why you avoid addressing conflicts and what you fear most. Work to overcome those fears to more effectively resolve conflicts.

4. Maintain privacy and confidentiality. When addressing conflict find a quiet place to meet with the parties involved. See that it’s a place that will provide minimum interruptions, and keep discussions confidential unless all parties agree to proceed otherwise.

5. Communicate a desire to find solutions. Common ground exists in most conflict situations. Diligently search for mutual goals, desires, attitudes and use them to mobilize parties toward workable solutions.

6. Go for win/win. Compromise is okay, but if both parties have their needs met in mutually acceptable ways, there tends to be a higher level of commitment and peace about the outcome.

7. Prepare a procedure for addressing and resolving conflicts. Any process that addresses the pertinent issues, accompanying emotions and desired results will do.

8. Be able to “let it go.” Sometimes it’s not possible to satisfactorily resolve conflicts if they are deep, complicated or long standing. Sometimes transferring individuals to other departments or jobs can help; other times termination may be necessary. Either way, it’s important to do your best, then let the consequences occur.