Are you having conflicts in the office? Better get used to it!

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to him self- George Bernard Shaw

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to him self- George Bernard Shaw

It’s no surprise that our relationships at home and work are central to our satisfaction.

Yet many of our workplaces still function as if emotion is somehow counterproductive, and emotional responses to colleagues are a sign of weakness.

How do we reconcile our universal human needs for respect and connection with the inevitable tensions that arise at work?

If you have experienced conflicts with co-workers, you know that too often there is no resolution and tension festers.

The resolution of work place conflicts is difficult for some of the same reasons problems develop in the first place; we are all individuals trying to fit in work environments that are increasingly stressful, demanding and competitive.

But what can you do about it?

Identify the situation gets you upset at work. Is it the way someone treats you, or that you just don’t like him or her?

Do impossible demands or a broken system frustrate you?
You might work with people who’ve proved to be untrustworthy. Most people, however, have a reason for speaking or acting that you might not understand.

Once you’ve become aware of what irks you, you can ask a few questions to check your assumptions before you respond. For example, you can ask your colleague,“what did you really mean?”

In the workplace, simple and direct communication is appreciated. This means that emotional undertones (and overtones) are often counterproductive.

The challenge in all work places is to find a direct expression of your thoughts and feelings that you can express within the style of your work environment. Your comments are more likely to be well received if they are concretely referenced to a situation.

Stop Talking: Knowing when to stop communicating is as important as communicating.

With a friend you can be more persistent in resolving conflicts. At work, if talking doesn’t help, you might consider changing your approach.

Know the workplace culture: Each workplace is unique and different from other more personal or social settings. In hierarchical workplaces, some responses are more advisable than others.

In some, you do not want to make enemies with people in positions of authority, especially if you want to keep your job.

What are the characteristics of your workplace culture and how do they affect your responses to conflict?

Is the environment collaborative or authoritarian? Is communication formal, i.e., appointments for meetings, written communication, etc.?

When a conflict arises the best thing is to usually separate yourself from it, but when that conflict is taking place where you work it can be nearly impossible to do so.

Whether it’s an argument, disagreement, or a full-blown fist-fight finding an appropriate way to deal with it is often the difference between being reprimanded and being able to continue your day in a regular fashion.
The author is a regular contributor

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