How to Handle Conflict at Work

2018-08-21 by Steve

Tips for Handling Co-Worker Conflict

When companies hire, they typically talk about getting the right “fit.” Try as they might, however, it is impossible for managers to find a group of people whom all get along famously. If you work in that environment, you have to perform on the job and keep the peace with others on your team, even if they make your daily routine challenging. Here are some ways to handle co-worker conflict in order to protect your livelihood and reputation.

1. Rise Above It

A particularly toxic co-worker may be deliberately difficult to get along with. They may choose to antagonize you, out of mere spite or a feeling of competitiveness. As much as some people may just “get” to you, for no apparent reason, you may have the same effect on others.

By rising above it, you send a message that their actions do not get to you. This alone may cause them to stop. If you need to respond to anything they do or say, focus on logic and fact instead of emotion and drama.

2. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Some co-workers are generally well-meaning individuals who just don’t see they are causing issues. For example, by volunteering to assist with a project, they may simply be trying to demonstrate commitment to the job. You might see it as bothersome, especially if it involves retraining.

Take a step back and give the person the benefit of the doubt. What are their motivations for their actions? If they are benign, maybe a polite conversation to discuss other ways to fulfill their professional objectives is in order.

3. Keep Your Distance

Sometimes the best way to handle a difficult co-worker is to avoid contact. You don’t have to have lunch in the same spot or always break together in the staff room. Take up a new routine to limit the amount of time you spend around the person.

You may discover that you actually have a time limit of the amount of time you can spend with the person before your nerves are frayed. If you are careful to stay under that limit, you may both be happier and more successful at work.

4. Know Your Triggers

You may know that there’s that one person at work that you really can’t stand. But are you aware of precisely what it is that drives you crazy? By identifying your triggers, you can better manage your workplace encounters.

Make a list and try filling in the blanks: “X drives me crazy when they…” From that list, you’ve got your triggers and can take steps to stop putting yourself in situations when they are bound to be activated.

5. Express Your Feelings

Especially if you are paired with certain people on important tasks, avoidance is not always possible. It may necessary to sit down and discuss how you can get along. Express your thoughts talking about yourself, without accusing the other person.

For example, you could say, “When you answer emails from the team lead on behalf of both of us, I don’t feel like my opinion has a chance to be heard.” Often, conversations such as these can be enlightening for both parties, because you may learn more about your co-worker.

On the job, everyone has to get along. But it’s important to remember that you’re not going to like everyone, and that’s OK. By using distinct techniques to keep the peace in the workplace, you can stay happy enough to find professional success without letting a few negative relationships stall your advancement.


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