Resolving Conflict


Managers play a key role in establishing a safe and secure workplace by setting expectations about workplace behaviors and actively and promptly working to resolve conflict that occurs.

Conflict is, to some degree, normal in the workplace. It can take many forms: an employee who disagrees with a management decision; coworkers who regularly disagree with one another or who don't get along; or relationship violence that enters the workplace. Conflict can be as obvious as screaming matches or take more subtle forms like threatening looks, making veiled references to violent actions, or engaging in behaviors like stalking.

Ensuring that employees understand and respect workplace behavioral norms, including the responsibility to inform managers of safety concerns, is the first step in keeping the workplace safe.


Develop Skills

Recognize that managing and resolving conflict is a regular part of a manager's job. Unresolved conflict rarely goes away on its own. The earlier conflict in the workplace is addressed, the less disruptive it is likely to be. Enhance your own skills by attending the course that Professional and Organizational Development offers: Q0790 Supervisor's Guide to Managing Conflict

Encourage staff members who have exposure to potentially angry or hostile persons to attend training classes on managing conflict, assertiveness and dealing with difficult people offered by Professional & Organizational Development.

Set Expectations About Workplace Behavior

Review and make sure staff are aware of the University policies that govern workplace conduct. These policies provide a foundation on which you build a set of expectations for appropriate conduct. The norms you establish set the framework for your employees' day-to-day conduct, and how conflict is managed. Use the following tips to help establish a safe work environment, and to ensure that employees know how to report their concerns or actual threats to workplace safety.

  • Help employees recognize warning signs of distress that may be associated with violent behavior, and let them know where to get help:
    • Prominently display SafeCampus posters.
    • Invite UW Police, UW Human Resources, UW CareLink or other community resources to present violence prevention information at team meetings.
    • Link your intranet to the SafeCampus web site.
  • Develop and implement a workplace safety plan that details how to respond to violence in the workplace. Review the plan with your staff at least yearly. UW Police and your Human Resources Consultant can help you develop your plan. For Harborview and UW Medical centers, contact your Medical Centers Public Safety Department.
  • Consider making time for group discussion when news of violence on campus or in a workplace makes headlines.
  • Reinforce the message that employees who seek help for themselves, family members or co-workers in need will not be penalized or face retaliation.
  • Be sensitive to cultural beliefs and values – people from different cultures have widely different comfort levels for talking to those outside their community about family or personal difficulties. Respect an employee’s reluctance to talk about personal matters, but do not ignore evidence of possible violence, like frequent injuries and unusual explanations for them. Call 685-SAFE (685-7233) to discuss your concerns and seek guidance.

Manage Conflict When It Arises

Anger Management & Abuser Referral

Working with your Human Resources Consultant or the Violence Prevention and Response Team, make referrals for employees who appear to have problems controlling their anger and/or behavior toward others.

UW CareLink: 800-833-3031
UW CareLink Provides confidential counseling and critical incident stress debriefing for UW faculty and staff.
Hall Health Mental Health Clinic: 206-543-5030
Hall Health Mental Health Clinic Provides mental health services to students, faculty and staff, including assessments; individual, couple, family and group therapy; medication evaluation and management; and referrals when appropriate to other campus or community resources.
The Counseling Center: 206-543-1240
Students can receive assistance with study skills, career decisions, and a wide range of personal problems such as relationship difficulties, anxiety, or depression. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday


If you or others may be in danger


206-685-SAFE (7233)
For advice and resources


206-685-WALK (9255)
UW safety guards
to walk with you