Just like in our personal relationships, compromise is a necessary part of getting along with colleagues.
Most of us avoid confrontation, but we all have different work styles and goals so conflict in the workplace is often unavoidable. Learning how to handle it well can mean it’s resolved quickly.
Worrying about damaging your relationship with co-workers is a common concern, but learning to tackle difficult conversations is part and parcel of your working life. The trick is to be able to clear the air but in a positive and mature manner – focusing on events rather than personalities will keep lines of communication open.
But listen carefully too
Give your colleague a chance to speak up too. Listen to what the other person is saying instead of getting ready to react. Avoid interrupting and wait until they have finished saying their piece. If in doubt about what has been said, ask questions. The important thing is to be clear so there are no further misunderstandings.
Get to the heart of the matter
Try to focus on resolving issues that matter to both parties. Spending some time nutting out what the root of a problem is will help avoid a repeat in the future. Sometimes, an unpleasant situation has nothing to do with what someone said or did – it might simply be a case of feeling left out, being ignored or taken for granted. These types of issues can be tricky to express and some encouragement might be needed to get to the crux of the problem.
Agree to disagree
You don’t have to be the best of friends with all your co-workers, but resolving any disagreements results in a more harmonious working environment. If an issue arises, do your best to discuss it privately so no one is left feeling humiliated and resentful. Come to an arrangement, even if it is to agree to disagree.
Could you be at fault?
It’s hard to accept that you could be to blame and it takes a big person to admit their actions could have led to the conflict. If you regularly find yourself in the middle of office conflict or know that certain colleagues have a negative opinion of you, it might pay to entertain the thought that you’ve unintentionally upset someone. An apology can go a long way.
Tip: Stop and compose yourself after someone says something you don’t like. Take a few slow, deep breaths before sharing your concerns. More often than not, you’ll find they had no intention of upsetting you.