Having opinion-wars with a coworker? Feel like good ideas are being discredited? Don’t know how to deal? When people are engaged, committed and passionate about their work—and sharing close quarters for hours on end—conflict and disagreement is bound to happen.
Whether engaged in a passive-aggressive thermostat war or full-blown boardroom brawl, workplace conflict can often be resolved with professionalism, respect, and a willingness to change. Use the following tips to say goodbye to the drama and build stronger worker relationships with co-workers.
Depersonalize conflicts. Instead of an “employee versus employee” mentality, visualize an “employees versus the problem” scenario. This simple shift in mindset focuses on problem solving without getting stuck in the blame game.
Listen and repeat. In clinical terms, this is called reflective listening, and it forces attentiveness while reducing defensiveness. The process is simple: actively listen, repeat exactly what was said, and paraphrase what it meant in one or two sentences. This clarification step helps prevent miscommunication and misunderstanding at the root of most conflicts.
An extended discussion may be necessary. If so, agree first on a time and place to talk. Confronting a coworker who’s with a client or working on a deadline is unfair and unprofessional. Pick a time when both are free to concentrate on the problem and its resolution. Take it outside and away from the group of inquisitive coworkers if they’re not directly involved in the problem.
Limit complaints to those directly involved. It’s unnecessary to turn the situation at hand into juicy office gossip. Remember, working relationships rather than personal ones need to be preserved, and one’s opinion of a coworker’s character is generally irrelevant. “He missed last week’s deadline” is ok; “He’s incompetent” is not.
Consider involving a supervisor. If the problem gets out of control, or if the issue is too emotional to resolve in a mutual discussion, a supervisor should be involved. Consider using a neutral third party mediator within the company, like the human resources manager, or utilizing the confidential employee assistance program.
Don’t take it personally. It may feel like a personal attack, but maybe that co-worker was just having a bad day. Take time to think before speaking in response to an insensitive remark. In some cases, it may be that saying nothing is the best response.
If office conflicts are getting in the way of creating a professional, efficient and positive working environment, contact ACI Specialty Benefits—your employee assistance program—and receive more personalized assistance. Call 800.932.0034 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.