Anger & conflict on the rise: Channel your inner referee.

Position:HR Trends

Research shows that interpersonal conflicts are increasing in U.S. workplaces. Employees' tempers are flaring more, leading to rudeness, yelling and more violent incidents.

As an HR pro, you cannot stop all workers from blowing their tops. But you can help ease the tension. Here are two steps you and your managers can take to help defuse the fury:

Find the first cause. Barking orders at angry individuals ("Calm down!") will make matters worse. Instead, separate aggressors and meet with them privately. Ask why they're acting this way.

When you invite them to explain their anger, most people won't start at the beginning. They'll usually jump right to the breaking point. Don't accept such stories at face value. Prod each person to describe the starting point before tempers flared.

By getting them to give you the full history of their conflict, you help them take at least some responsibility for contributing to its escalation.

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