We would like to promise you that life in a shared workspace is all roses and kittens. Alas, we work in the real world. Even coworking community experiences the occasional workplace conflict. Use these tips to handle every situation professionally and win bonus points with your colleagues.


1- Be a conflict preventer.

The best way to handle conflict starts with avoidance. Follow the shared workspace rules about meetings, volume, and general conduct. Clean up after yourself especially in common areas. We know that latest hit song is catchy, but not everyone wants to hear you humming it. Be discreet about your volume and phone calls. Remember your manners. Don’t take something without asking, whether it’s in the refrigerator or on the desk.

2-Don’t be passive aggressive.

Don’t you just hate snide comments or back-handed compliments? Passive-aggressive behavior makes the conflict worse. Be polite, but direct. Example: someone across the table from you keeps peppering you with questions about a project, but you’re deep into work for a client. It might be fun to build a wall with your backpack and folders, but it’s not professional. Instead say, “Hey, I’d love to talk about this, but I don’t have time right now. Can we schedule some time later?”

3-Have a cool head.

Before confronting someone with an issue, make sure your temper is chill. Can you go somewhere else for a little while to calm down or remove yourself from the situation? A seat change can work wonders when someone’s behavior is distracting your work and you don’t want to create a bigger issue.

4-Schedule a private meeting.

Show your class by avoiding a scene. Confronting people in a public situation usually makes conflict worse. Go somewhere private, if possible. If you must, schedule a meeting with the problem person(s).


Approach the problem with a potential solution already in mind. Conflict is best resolved with a little give and take. If you’re willing to give a bit, that leaves a positive impression about your professionalism. Who knows? Maybe they’ll recommend you to a new client based on how well you handled the situation.

6-Use the Community Manager.

Let’s say you’ve done the class act. You’ve calmly discussed the problem with the other party. Most people in coworking spaces are professionals and will work to avoid the problem again. But this particular person is that one bad apple in the dozen and the conflict continues. Quietly, ask for the Community Manager’s help. This is especially true if you’re afraid of some retribution. The CM has many job duties, among which is fostering a safe, productive community for everyone. Make them aware of steps you’ve taken to resolve the conflict so they are fully informed.

Learning conflict resolution strategies is key for any business professional, whether a freelancer or a growing business. Rising above conflict will win respect from your shared space colleagues when they see how deftly you handle the situation.


Abbey Weil

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