Workplace conflicts are common in all industries including the police force. If not handled properly, these conflicts can escalate and become more of a problem than they should be! Learning how to manage workplace disputes among colleagues and senior management as well as the community you serve will stand you in good stead.
Practical strategies can be learnt and applied when facing a conflict in your working environment. You can also sign up for a membership with your local police union for support when these situations do get out of control and you need expert advice.
If you’re serious about being a professional policeman or policewoman, use these tips to help you navigate workplace conflicts so you can come to a resolution as soon as possible.
4 Useful Tips for Handling Workplace Conflicts in the Police Force
Table of Contents
1. Open Up a Discussion
If the workplace conflict is between you and a colleague or senior manager, step away and cool down. Go outside and get some fresh air. Getting heated up during the conflict will get you nowhere especially if the other party is also stressed and feels antagonised.
When the situation has calmed down, ask for a meeting to discuss a way forward to resolve the issue. Ask the other person to name a time and date that suits them best. Identify a meeting place, preferably at your workplace, and make sure you won’t be interrupted.
2. Avoid Generalising and Finger-Pointing
Having a face-to-face meeting to discuss your concerns and find a resolution with the other party can be daunting. To help it go as smooth as possible, make a point of avoiding any generalisation while talking to the other party. Always refer to the specific incident or event and stick to the facts.
Avoid finger-pointing, accusing the other party by saying, “When you do…” and stating how they upset you by their behaviour. Instead, opt to phrase sentences by saying, ‘When this happens…” which is less confrontational.
3. Be an Active Listener
Active listening entails hearing everything the other party says and choosing to understand the situation from their perspective. It’s a useful skill that requires hearing with all your senses and taking note of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Active listening requires you to concentrate fully on what the other person is saying and not reacting or interrupting while they’re talking.
Forming counterarguments is not active listening! Nor is getting easily distracted by other things around you or worse, getting bored with what the other person is saying! Active listening requires you to be:
- Consciously aware of how YOU are communicating.
- Conscious of the chatter in your mind and blocking it when it interferes with hearing what the other person is saying.
- Listening from the heart and showing compassion while finding meaning in what the other person is saying.
- Matching and mirroring the other person.
Active listening most often leads to a deep understanding of both yourself and the other party, helping you to find an amicable resolution for solving the workplace conflict.
3. Identify and Prioritise Key Conflict Issues
Together you want to identify and prioritise key issues that need to be resolved. This requires both parties to list the issues that bother them most and come up with solutions. Summarising the agreements and disagreements helps to keep the focus on what’s working and what isn’t.
Moving forward to finding a resolution requires reaching an agreement on this summary. You may need to unpack this further until you both agree on the areas of conflict that need to be worked on. Once you’ve prioritised the areas of conflict, you can:
- Develop a plan highlighting which conflicts need to be worked on first.
- Set up further meetings to discuss each point of conflict and find a resolution for them.
- Focus on being collaborative rather than being confrontational.
Workplace conflicts often arise when there’s more than one problem that hasn’t been resolved properly in the first place. Identifying all the events leading up to the blowout will help you both unpack each issue and seek out a resolution that works for both parties.
4. Ask for a Mediator
If you’re a member of a police union, you can ask for support and advice. Depending on how serious the workplace conflict is, mediation can be organised to assist with discussions between yourself and the other party.
Police unions act as advocates for members of the police force. Workplace conflicts such as disagreements with management, unfair pay or disputes with community members can be mediated by professionals within the association.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help if the conflict can’t be solved through the other means suggested in this article.
Workplace conflicts should be avoided at all costs. But, when they do surface you want to handle them as professionally as possible to maintain your own reputation in the police force. Being a member of a police union will give you a place to turn to when matters get out of hand. But, before they do, attempt to find a resolution using these tips. Have the right attitude from the start and you may solve the problem sooner than you think.