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Not all conflicts are made equal says Joseph F LoPresti. Some issues simply arise over a miscommunication or a misunderstanding. Some are personal; some are professional. Some are severe, for instance, in cases of abuse. Here are some precautions to keep in mind when trying to address interpersonal conflicts in the workplace: 

Try to solve the issue with your coworker alone

Attempt to resolve the issue without getting others involved, unless doing so puts you in danger. Safety should always be the number one priority when dealing with any sort of conflict. Does your coworker have a tendency to anger or violence? Would you be fearful for your own safety if you address the issues? In situations like this, take every precaution to keep yourself safe. Consult your HR department to intervene, and contact the authorities if the situation warrants police action. If they pose a threat to you, do they also pose a threat to others? These are questions to keep in mind when trying to address interpersonal conflict in the workplace.

Utilize your human resources department 

According to Joseph F LoPresti, the HR department is there to deal with issues like this says Joseph F LoPresti, ranging from personal conflict, to professional conflict, to liability. HR normally has to maintain confidentiality unless, stated otherwise, or in specific cases of potential harm to others. However, they are always a good place to start even to consult advice simply, or to seek assistance through a potential mediation. 

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Bring a culture of open communication into your workplace 

Boundaries are very important, and it can be hard to maintain your own boundaries in a demanding work environment. This truth can be the source of workplace conflict; a coworker unknowingly went too far, maybe with a joke, or with their expectations, or really with anything at all. It needs to be clear where the line is. If a coworker oversteps your boundaries, it was probably unintentional, but you might want to consider giving them feedback about what you took issue with so you can avoid it happening again. Boundaries are important, and not maintaining them makes it hard to persevere through tough workplace situations.

Talk to your supervisor

This does not mean “telling” on your coworker says Joseph F LoPresti. Alerting your boss to the situation can inform them of the situation and the extenuating circumstances that exist because of the conflict you are having. If the conflict is thoroughly interfering with your ability to do your job, absolutely bring it to your bosses attention before/after you have brought it to the HR department. 

Ask yourself if this is a pattern of behavior or an isolated incident 

Is it something that has to be addressed? Sometimes, in all honestly, addressing conflict is not worth it because of the potential for more issues to arise. However, It is absolutely worth it when this is a recurring issue. If it is an issue that keeps arising, it is vital that you address it with your coworker because, chances are, you are not the only one feeling the burden of their mistakes. Other people are probably taking notice too. If you can find the appropriate time to address it, do it strategically.

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