Conflict at the office is inevitable regardless of where you work. Whenever you bring together so many different people with all kinds of personalities, issues from the past, relationships at home, lifestyles and stresses that come with the job, there will be conflict.
However, while the conflict alone cannot be avoided at the office, there are certainly ways to handle the conflict. Most people, whether intentionally or not, would rather manage the conflict by merely avoiding it. Pretending it doesn’t exist or simply avoiding the person. But this method can only lead to more problems down the road. Typically, it can lead to gossiping or rumors among other coworkers, the creation of a divide between departments or employees, a lack of production and motivation to work, and perhaps a huge blow up at some point.
So, what do you do? Here are just three tips for how one can better handle conflicts at the office.
First, put yourself in your coworker’s shoes. One of the things that many people are guilty of is not taking themselves out of their own shoes and putting themselves in another person’s shoes. Could Jane have reacted the way she did because she just lost her mother a month ago and still hasn’t dealt with that loss? Could John’s reaction to what I did be a valid reaction, because what would I have done if someone in my office had done that to me? When people begin to ask themselves these types of questions, they can often find some deeper understanding to another person’s reactions and it’s this deeper understanding that can help extinguish some of the heated feelings about what transpired.
Second, determine whether or not it’s a good idea to bring it up directly to the person or not. Each situation and the people involved are different, so the decision of whether or not to bring it up is not always clear. As a general rule, if you are going to confront someone to make yourself feel better, you shouldn’t approach that person. If you are going to confront someone to get their feedback, hear their side of things and find out what can be done in the future to prevent the conflict in the future, then approaching that person might be beneficial. And, of course, the ultimate effect of clearing the air and resolving the conflict is that both parties will feel better, but if your sole purpose is just to make yourself feel better and get “your side” out to this person, keep it to yourself.
Last, but not least, try to take away the lesson that can be learned from the conflict. One of the best things that can come out of resolving personal conflict, whether you choose to confront someone or simply move on from it, is to learn from the lesson that can be learned from it. You cannot control how people react or how they will respond to a situation, but you can certainly be more aware of what things were said or done that triggered those reactions. Being more aware of how your actions can cause reactions in others that result in conflict is a huge is a valuable lesson that can be learned.
So, hopefully, you can see that while conflict is inevitable, it is manageable with the way that you deal with it. Conflict doesn’t have to be the silent killer (or even the open and very obvious killer) of relationships at the workplace. It just needs to be handled correctly so that people can move on and focus on what brought them together in the first place – – to work together towards the same purpose and goals for their employers.
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