How to stop the office return causing conflict

Professional mediator Clive Lewis on oppressive cultures, being sincere and the importance of convincing, not commanding.

by Stephen Jones

We are not good at dealing with conflict at work. A study of 40 mediation cases in the NHS revealed there's an average of 19 months and two days between the seeds of workplace conflict being sown and it being solved.

The estimated cost of all these conflicts to the NHS in terms of absence, mistakes, delays and staff turnover was thought to be as much as £500m. 

We let disputes simmer because people feel ill equipped to be able to handle hard discussions, says Clive Lewis, whose Globis Mediation Group conducted the NHS study. Managers can also hold the “Panglossian view” that conflict will eventually just go away. 

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