Carnegie Mellon University

Conflict Management

Open communication

The first steps toward resolving work-related issues involve open communication. Open communication is the quickest way to raise your issues by discussing the issues openly with your colleague or supervisor. If you are not sure about how to approach your colleague or supervisor, your HR business partner can offer guidance and suggestions.

Steps to a positive resolution of conflict

  1. Ask to meet with the person you are in conflict with to discuss the issue. Designate a private meeting place.
  2. Identify the problem and clarify the issue. State the problem and focus on the facts. Stay calm.
  3. Identify the impact(s) of the issue. What outcomes do you want to see?
  4. Listen to the other person's point of view. Listening is the most power tool to resolve an issue but can also be the hardest.
  5. Confirm you heard what was said. People need to be heard. Confirm that you understand the other person's point of view. Ask questions. Once they are heard, they will be more open to listening to you.
  6. Problem solve and evaluate potential solutions together. Ask the person you are in conflict with for ideas to resolve the issue.
  7. Compromise and agree on a plan.
  8. If unresolved, determine next steps. This may include meeting with a supervisor or HR business partner who can help facilitate a constructive conversation and provide support toward problem resolution.

All those involved should commit to:

  • Active listening
  • Managing their emotions
  • Agreeing on goals
  • Focusing on issues and facts rather than personalities
  • Engaging in problem solving and exploring alternative solutions together
  • Reaching agreement on next steps