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When people work together, conflicts are inevitable. Some company cultures tolerate more conflict than others. But in all cultures, resolving conflicts is the only way to stay productive and efficient. It's up to you to determine whether a conflict remains a small disagreement or erupts into an all-out duel. That's why it's important to be aware of the correct etiquette for handling conflicts. To ensure you're following the correct etiquette, you can follow the three steps described below to work through conflicts.

1. State a clear point of view.

The first step in working through a conflict is to state a clear point of view. Choose your words carefully. That way you can make your position clear without escalating the disagreement. When you're discussing your own point of view, avoid using the word you. For example, don't say, "You're always late completing your assignments." Instead, explain your point of view using the word I. You could say, "I'm frustrated when I don't have the information I need to do my work."

2. Explore what's happening in the conflict.

After both people in a conflict have clearly stated their points of view, the source of the conflict becomes more apparent. The source of the problem usually falls into one of four categories.

* Some conflicts arise because people are working from different sets of facts.
* Conflicts are bound to happen when people who are working together have different goals.
* Conflicts can happen when two people share a goal but disagree about the best way to get there.
* Sometimes people agree on a goal as well as the best way to achieve it. However, conflicts can still happen if people have different priorities.

3. Propose collaboration.
After you've clarified the source of the conflict, you should identify common interests. By offering to collaborate in working toward common interests, the conflict can be minimized. You're also building a more cooperative relationship.

If the other person presents a strong case, surrender is an option. But in truth, you'll feel defeated and resentful. If you defer to others in all conflicts, you'll be less effective getting your own work done. And if you resist making any concessions at all, you might get what you want—this time. But defeating every opponent is time-consuming and creates hard feelings. You won't win any friends this way. That's why collaboration is the best way to resolve conflict.

Workplace conflicts are often complicated. You won't solve them all with one simple formula. But you can keep many small problems from becoming big ones by following the correct etiquette for handling conflicts.

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