Workplace conflict will crop up at some point in your career. You will be faced with both necessary and unnecessary arguments. Whether it’s yourself, a colleague or intern, arguments in the office are a common enough and if handled poorly can be very destructive to your image and that of the company.
Here are three tips to think about if you find yourself in a situation where conflict is about to ensue.
1) Take a step back
You may wish to resolve conflict as quickly as possible. However, trying to resolve a conflict in the heat of the moment might not turn out as rosy as you expect. When people are riled up, they’re incapable of making their best decisions. It’s unlikely that you’ll reach an agreement when adrenaline is running high.
So, following an incident of aggression or disagreement, allow plenty of time for feelings of anger and hurt to subside before approaching the offended or offender to talk about your feelings and or apologize.
2) Show empathy
Always remember that there two sides to every argument. Understanding and empathizing with your nemesis could well be the key to preventing further conflict.
People don’t, as a rule, blow up over nothing; aggression always has a root. Shouting, snapping and argumentative behaviors are almost always defense mechanisms, employed when the aggressor feels threatened. Is it possible that you could be the source of this threat? If so, you might want to try talking things through from the other guy’s perspective.
3) Be wise
Communication is the key to solving future conflict. You will need to apply some wisdom before you approach your co-worker who might be exasperated. So before you approach your co-worker, take a deep breath, fix your body language and stay away from aggressive speech.
Verbal disputes are, predictably, broken and forged by the words you use. Rather than pursue an aggressive line (“You side-line me!”), try focusing on your personal experience by using ‘I’ sentences (“I felt side-lined when you…”). Avoid direct accusations or blanket statements (“you always”/“you never”) and, above all, try to communicate in a quiet, calm manner.