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How to handle conflict at work

Arielle Gordis 9 min read
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Workplace trends

Some finance interns are earning $120/hour this summer

In an effort to attract more young people who may be disillusioned by tech layoffs and hesitant about in-office work, many finance firms are offering interns notably bigger paychecks this year. In fact, across the United States, median intern pay jumped 19% at 16 top financial firms and 29% at hedge funds and prop-trading firms, according to At Citadel and Citadel Securities, the median wage for interns jumped roughly 25% to $120 an hour, totaling $19,200 per month before taxes – not surprisingly, these bigger paychecks brought nearly 70,000 applications for their 2023 internship program, which is more than a 65% increase year-over-year. Experts explain that while big banks reduced 2023 bonuses and continue to cut jobs, there is still plenty of money sitting around on Wall Street to lure in top talent.

Mexico sets new work-from-home rules

Mexico’s Labor Department has enacted new remote work policies: Mexican employers now must pay for essential remote work tools including the internet, ergonomic chairs, and electricity; remote Mexican employees who work at least 40% of their time from remote locations now have a “right to disconnect” and be unavailable during non-working hours; employers are now required to pay remote workers the same amount as onsite employees; and government inspectors can visit an employee’s home to ensure it’s safe, well-ventilated, and well-lit. If conditions are not up-to-standards, the employee cannot be required to work from there. Several other countries including the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Argentina have already enacted remote work policies and experts expect this trend to continue.

The AI corner

Nasdaq recorded its best start to the year since 1983

The Nasdaq jumped 32% in the first six months of 2023, marking its best first half of a year since 1983. Experts suggest this success is the result of investors flocking to companies in the tech-heavy index that they expect to benefit from the growth of artificial intelligence. The largest contributors to the market rally were Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet, Meta, Tesla, and Nvidia – whose chips are used to power AI tools at many of the companies taking advantage of this advance technology. Amid all the AI hype, Nvidia has nearly tripled in price since the start of 2023, with shares soaring 190% in the first half of the year.

Gen Z graduates are AI experts

The youngest generation entering the workforce may be the most prepared to take advantage of generative artificial intelligence at work. Despite some industry leaders and a number of AI creators warning of the potential risks and dangers of artificial intelligence, many Gen Z students have been actively experimenting with the tools and, at times, have even been encouraged by their schools to utilize AI to get their schoolwork done. Now, as these new hires begin to enter the workforce, Gen Z is bringing its AI expertise to the workplace and are more likely to use AI at work than their older colleagues, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Some academics attribute this AI fluency to the fact that Gen Z is the first digital-native generation that has grown up using technology day in and day out.

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How to handle conflict at work


Conflicts are essentially inevitable at work, but how they get both addressed and resolved can truly define team culture, dynamics, and productivity.

As a manager, navigating conflict that involves your team members can be a slippery slope, especially when there are multiple workers and hierarchical levels involved. What you say and do is just as relevant as what you don’t say and don’t do, so it’s important to be extremely intentional about the way you handle these situations. If your employees sense bias or feel that opinions and decisions were reached before getting the full story, it can have long-lasting repercussions and promote a culture of distrust and resentment.

So, how should you navigate conflicts with your team members?

Promote open communication

As a manager, it’s important to create a culture in which your team members feel comfortable voicing their concerns, challenges, and conflicts. Getting there starts with small actions like asking your employees how they’re doing in meetings, being transparent with feedback in terms of what’s going well and when there are areas to improve, checking in to see what your employees need from you, and actively following up with them. All these gestures increase the likelihood that if and when conflicts arise, your team members will feel safe coming to you, which will help ensure that issues don’t get pushed aside or brushed over only to escalate later.

Take a moment to process

When a team member comes to you about a conflict, it’s extremely important not to react impulsively and say something that could wind up being held against you later on. Taking a firm side or making your opinion known before you have all the information is risky and could have real repercussions down the line. So when it’s the first time you’re hearing about a conflict, first and foremost, take a moment. Process the information and then do your best to validate feelings rather than stances. This can mean responding something like, “That sounds like a really challenging situation, I’m sorry you’re feeling so frustrated and disappointed. Let’s figure out how to make sure you don’t feel this way going forward.” Then you can talk about the next steps you plan to take to better understand what happened and help your team member resolve the issue.

Choose your words carefully

When you witness or hear about a conflict with one of your team members, be careful not to sound accusatory or begin conversations by simply sharing negative feedback you received about them. Instead, lead with questions and keep your initial takeaway high-level. For example, “I heard there was a disagreement about the project approach” is much less attacking and triggering than “I heard you responded really poorly to the proposed project approach.” Similarly, whenever possible, avoid making assumptions and try to guide the conversation through intentionally phrased questions about what transpired.

Leave out opinions

When a conflict is brought to your attention, it’s really important to lead from a place of objectivity. Regardless of your personal experiences and thoughts on any of the individuals involved, your role is to help your employees understand the root of the conflict and resolve the issue, not to determine who’s to blame or most at fault. So, when a conflict is brought to your attention, really try to focus the conversation on what happened in that specific scenario and not allow personal judgments to cloud solutions. As simple as it may sound, asking employees to use the word “I” when they explain the situation as opposed to focusing on what others did or said is a helpful way to frame the conversation and effectively identify the source of the conflict.

Encourage independent resolution

Though as a manager and outsider in the situation it may be tempting to step in and fix the problems yourself, it’s important to recognize that your role is to help your team members find solutions on their own whenever possible so that they can truly learn and grow from the experience. After you listen and assist them in identifying the what triggered the conflict, encourage them to take responsibility in deciding what to do next by asking questions like, “What do you think would make you feel better going forward,” “What would you do differently if something like this were to happen again,” and “Do you feel ready to talk about it with the other people involved?”

Ultimately no one enjoys an unpleasant work environment, and when each team member involved feels they were part of the solution, they are way more likely to walk away feeling empowered. Additionally, be sure to give vocal credit to your employees who manage to resolve conflicts effectively and handle themselves in a professional way to signal the type of behavior that is valued on your team.

Recognize the opportunity

Remember that when handled the right way, conflict and subsequent resolution can prove really beneficial. It promotes the use of skills that are essential to workplace success like problem solving, thoughtful analysis, and collaboration, and it presents an opportunity to improve status quos and develop stronger relationships. The most effective teams are those in which members feel comfortable respectfully disagreeing with one another and thinking differently because that’s what spurs innovation and greater decision-making. So, help your team members see the value in these experiences and in the power of achieving constructive resolution.

Water cooler chatter

Japan Airlines debuted its “Any Wear, Anywhere” service, which lets passengers rent and receive clothes upon arrival in Japan in order to travel baggage-free. The carrier hopes the offering will reduce clothing waste and encourage flyers to pack light, allowing its planes to burn less greenhouse-gas-spewing fuel.

“The purpose of this trial is to verify whether users accept and truly generate environmental value from this concept.”
Spokesperson, Japan Airlines

Desperate university students in Australia are sharing beds with strangers because they can’t afford to rent a room of their own due to Australia’s high cost of living. This practice, known as ‘hot-bedding,’ involves splitting the rent of a bedroom and switching off using the bed for a certain number of hours. So when one person is not in the bed, someone else can use it.

“When he is not driving, because it’s an all-boys house, I go into the storeroom. There is a small space for a mattress and I sleep in there.”
19-year-old international student, splits bedroom with a man who works nights as a truck driver

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Just for laughs

How to handle conflict at work
Arielle is a writer and storyteller currently serving as a content marketing manager at When she’s not busy writing, you can find her walking outside for hours on end or planning her next travel adventure.

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