Just like collaboration, problem solving and compromise, conflict is a part of the workplace. Even people with the best of intentions can have run-ins with their peers. However, I’ve figured out that differences in opinion can actually be a good thing, as these healthy discussions can produce ideas and answers about how to solve something that may not be working in your office.
Having conflicts between co-workers may not be ideal, but how you resolve those issues can speak to your character and professionalism in the workplace. The next time a problem arises at work, keep these suggestions in mind to properly solve the issue:
A lot of times, one employee may be angry with another, but that person may not know how the other one feels. Never expect a co-worker to read your mind if you’re unhappy with them. Instead, I like to bring the problem up with them so I can put the issue behind me.
Make the conflict a priority
Problems in the workplace can be uncomfortable, which causes some people to put conflicts on the back burner, hoping they will solve themselves. However, you shouldn’t wait to resolve issues at work, because they rarely just disappear. Take the first step by scheduling a time to talk about the problem. Say something along the lines of “Hey Tim, there’s something I would like to discuss with you today. Do you have time to meet with me this afternoon in the conference room?”
Always opt for in-person discussion
Email, text messaging and instant messaging may be a convenient way to communicate, but those certainly aren’t the best ways to solve a conflict. It’s extremely difficult to convey tone in a text message or an email, and there are certain words or phrases that could come off in a negative way, only making the conflict worse.
Ask your co-worker to talk face-to-face, whether that means heading out of the office to grab coffee, or reserving one of the conference rooms to have a chat. When you’re standing in front of your co-worker, you’ll be able to read their body language and listen for the tone in their voice.
If you’re in a conflict with someone who’s in another state or town, pick up the phone and give them a call.
Let the other person talk
Nothing is more frustrating than when someone is constantly talking over you. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be heard, and having a one-sided conversation isn’t going to resolve any issues. Instead, allow everyone to speak. Keep an open mind while listening to the other people in the conversation and try to at least see their perspective, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. By having everyone voice their thoughts, you may all come to a solution more quickly.
Stick to “I” statements
Putting blame on a co-worker during an argument only adds fuel to the fire. Be careful of the language you’re using, and try to express how you’re feeling using “I” statements such as “I feel this way because ….” Talking it out like this may prevent the other person from feeling attacked, and they will be more willing to be open and honest with you.
Never start a discussion with “I can’t believe you keep interrupting me during meetings!” Instead, start with something a bit more neutral such as, “I’ve noticed that we have a tendency to talk over one another in meetings. Is this something you’ve picked up on?”
No matter the argument, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. I always keep this quote in mind when I’m angry with someone:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” – Unknown