5 Emails to Fix a High Conflict Situation with a Co-worker

Most people at some point in their working careers encounter conflict, it’s a completely normal occurrence.

When these uncomfortable situations arise it’s important to keep a resolution in mind. Whoever is in the wrong, it’s better to handle the situation by putting your ego to the side and trying to find a middle ground.

We recommend you act quickly before the passive-aggressive tension in the air starts to choke everyone but not to speak to the person(s) without coming from a calm and neutral headspace. This is why taking the time to write a cautiously written email can be helpful, (providing you take the time to phrase things in a diplomatic way.)

If you do find yourself in a conflict situation with a co-worker, and you’re looking for the right words to draft an email, it’s worth taking a look at the email templates given below, adapt them to help resolve your issues.

Here are 5 email templates to fix a high conflict situation with a co-worker:

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.


Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Email Template 1 | “I Need to Explain the Circumstances”


Dear [Insert Name],
I’m writing this email to explain an issue to you, as I understand that this has caused you some concern recently.
I know that the pace of progress on the [insert project name] project has caused considerable stress for you and that you felt this issue was down to poor project planning on my part. I can see why this would cause you to feel mistrustful of my management of the project. The slow progress that we have seen is actually the result of a delay at the marketing agency’s end, since our point of contact [Insert Name] has had to take time off due to illness, and the person filling in needed time to get up to speed on things.
Now that the replacement is up to speed with our project, we expect the pace of work to increase in the coming weeks. I’m sorry that I didn’t explain this bottleneck to you earlier, which perhaps led you to believe that I had made certain miscalculations.
If you have any other concerns about the project, please don’t hesitate to discuss them with me, so that I can reassure you and minimise any stress caused.
I hope this clarifies everything. Feel free to reach out at any time if you feel you need to talk about anything.
[Insert Your Name]

This template takes the time to address your colleagues’ concerns, in order to reassure them that you are in control of things in your team. It also offers an olive branch to try to patch up the relationship going forward.

If you want to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the "Improving Your Conflict Competence" video course from LinkedIn Learning.
Click here for full access to "Improving Your Conflict Competence" On LinkedIn Learning
In this course, author and conflict expert Craig Runde helps you manage workplace conflict more effectively. You'll also learn important practical steps to manage your emotions and engage in a constructive way with others.

Email Template 2 | “I Would Appreciate It If You Didn’t Take the Credit for My Team’s Efforts”


Dear [Insert Name],
I’m writing this email to discuss the last meeting with the Chairperson [Insert Name]. During that meeting, it came across as if the recent breakthroughs on the [Insert Project Name] project were the result of work that you had completed, when in fact, my own team was responsible.
I’m sure that this wasn’t deliberate on your part, but it would be much appreciated in future meetings if you could ensure that credit for project work is directed appropriately. My team did feel very let down when they learned that their hard work had not been recognized, and I’m sure you’ll agree, this kind of situation is not fair on them.
I realize that nothing can be done to correct the misunderstanding that has already taken place, but if you could take care to prevent this from happening in future meetings, that would be very much appreciated.
Best regards,
[Insert Your Name]

This template explains calmly and clearly that the recipient has over-stepped the mark, without getting cross or confrontational. It suggests that the recipient has upset the entire team, and not just you, which adds weight to your argument.

If you're looking to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the following video course from LinkedIn Learning.
Click here for full access to "Communication within Teams" On LinkedIn Learning
In this course, Kelley School of Business professor Dr. Daisy Lovelace walks managers through how to cultivate the communication practices of high-performing teams. She highlights the foundations of successful teams, and explains how to craft a team charter to establish ground rules for how you work together as a cohesive group. She also discusses essential elements of team communication—such as creating a shared vision and holding teammates accountable—and shows how to best communicate with your team in different settings.

Email Template 3 | “We’re Doing the Best We Can with What We Have” 


Dear [Insert Name],
I am reaching out to you with regards to the concerns you expressed last week about the amount of time it is taking our trucks to deliver goods from the warehouses to the outlets.
First of all, I would like to thank you for clearly communicating your concerns to us. Also, your observations about the routes currently being followed by our trucks, along with the pick-up and delivery time of the goods, have been thoroughly reviewed.
Wholesale changes to the delivery process are difficult, due to a number of serious challenges that we face. As explained previously, several problems would arise If the routes you suggested were adopted. Regulatory restrictions on heavy vehicles are the biggest factor that is preventing faster delivery of goods to all the specified outlets. This makes it difficult for us to use bigger vehicles because they are not allowed within city limits during the daytime.
Therefore, we have to work around this hurdle and utilise smaller trucks. Unfortunately, that is the only option we have right now. Whilst there is little that we can do currently to resolve the issues you have raised, we are in touch with the Maintenance Department and I have forwarded your concerns to them, along with our suggested solutions. Please be assured that we take all concerns very seriously, and will work continuously to find workable solutions to the issues you have raised.
[Insert Your Name]

This template is suitable for situations where you have to acknowledge the concerns raised by someone, but you can’t actually offer a solution to their issue. All you can do is reassure them that you have listened and taken their concerns on board and that if you are able to address the issues raised at any point in the future, you will do so.

If you're looking to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the following video course from LinkedIn Learning.
Click here for full access to "Managing Diversity" On LinkedIn Learning
Using real case studies and examples, HR consultant Catherine Mattice helps you create a strategic plan to support diversity and inclusion in your workplace and manage a diverse workforce.

Email Template 4 | “I’m a Professional Who Can Handle Rejection”


Dear [Insert Name],
I am emailing you to discuss something which I know has been bothering you for the last couple of weeks. I would like to clarify a few things to put your mind at ease.
Ever since you won the promotion to the vacant position of Creative Director, you’ve seemed to be a little wary of me, and I even feel that you have been avoiding me as much as possible. I fully understand your reservations and I would probably have reacted the same way if I were in your shoes.
However, I am here to tell you categorically that your new role has not changed my respect for you or my relationship with you. It is true that I wanted the Creative Director role for myself and was really keen on it. I also have no problems admitting that I worked hard to get the job and I was really disappointed when the role was not given to me.
But the fact remains that the right person has been chosen, as is evident from your track record. While I was very disappointed, I assure you that I’m ready to move on now. If there is one thing that you can give me credit for, it is that I have always been thoroughly professional.
In a few weeks’ time, you will be assuming your new role and I will be reporting directly to you. I would like to assure you that you have my full cooperation and I will not challenge your authority in any way. I wish you all the very best for this new challenge and you can count on my full support as a part of your team.
[Insert Your Name]

It’s only natural for there to be a certain awkwardness between two people who applied for the same promotion, and if you feel that the recipient is finding this situation difficult to handle, reassuring them with this email template may well help dissolve those fears.

If you're looking to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the following video course from LinkedIn Learning.
Click here for full access to "Working with Difficult People" On LinkedIn Learning
In this course, Chris Croft shares methods for recognizing the characteristics of some of the most common types of difficult people, and gives you strategies for dealing with these individuals more effectively. Chris provides practical techniques for dealing with a variety of different behaviors, including negativity, aggression, childishness, and selfishness. Plus, he explains how to overcome your own negative thinking, and get the best from a difficult boss.

Email Template 5 | “I’m Extending My Apologies, I Didn’t Mean to Cause Offense”


Dear [Insert Name],
I’m emailing you today to discuss the matter that came up during the review meeting last week. There certainly seems to be a misunderstanding on this, and I feel I need to clear the air so that issues like this do not happen in the future.
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge your concern about the comments that I made in that meeting and to offer my apologies for offending you.  I would also like to assure you that those comments were not in any way aimed at your commitment and dedication to the job.
We all know that you have been given responsibility for tasks that require you to move away from your core area of expertise. There is also no doubt in anyone’s mind that you are handling things very well and that is something which we all appreciate.
Coming back to my comments, my intention was simply to help and guide you in identifying what areas of the project need attention. It is quite clear that you are operating out of your comfort zone on this project, but everyone recognises that you are the best person for the job. Therefore, I would like to offer you my full support and cooperation as you take this project forward.
Please feel free to drop by to have a chat about anything and to ask for any sort of help at any time. We are all very confident that you will be able to rise to the challenges that this project brings.
[Insert Your Name] 

It can be easy to offend someone whilst trying to give them constructive criticism, so take time with this template to ensure that you acknowledge their achievements to date, and to explain that you want to work with them for the best results.

If you want to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the "Having Difficult Conversations" video course from LinkedIn Learning.
Click here for full access to "Having Difficult Conversations" On LinkedIn Learning
Here you'll get practical advice on how to have difficult conversations with colleagues, employees, and managers. You'll learn to develop your communication skills to improve your relationships, teamwork, and business performance all from the comfort of your laptop.

At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.  

If you’re interested in further reading, we’ve also included links to our trusted resources and related posts below. To find out more about NTRW and our recommended tools, you can do that here.

Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!

Article by Never the Right Word

Scripts & Templates for Life’s Uncomfortable Conversations. Learn more about NTRW here. NTRW is supported by adverts and affiliate marketing links. For more info, please see our Earnings Disclosure.

This site does not constitute legal, mental, or medical health advice, please consult a competent licensed professional. If you have questions please Contact Us.

Never the Right Word

Never the Right Word

Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation. Learn more about me here.

In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.

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