Avoiding Workplace Conflict

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When you spend 40+ hours a week with the same individuals, it’s not always going to be sunshine and roses. There will be good days, but there will also be rough days full of tension and conflict. The fact that conflict occurs isn’t the issue, it’s how you go about avoiding the conflict. Workplace conflict causes stress, bad attitudes and a desire to leave your company. A recent study by CPP Inc. found that employees in United States companies spend approximately 2.1 hours each week involved in conflict. This amounts to around $359 billion in hours paid that are focused on conflict instead of positive productivity. Make your day peaceful and enjoyable by following these tips for avoiding workplace conflict:

 

Show Awareness

Unfortunately, conflicts are bound to arise from time-to-time even though you’re proactively trying to prevent it. It’s beneficial to be aware of what’s happening in your office by keeping your eyes and ears open. Here is when you can take some time to observe your coworkers to determine their ticks. Does Bob get annoyed by dirty dishes left in the break room sink? Does Jane get defensive when you stand behind her desk and make endless suggestions? Or does Scott get angry when he sees his boss sitting in his office all day not getting anything accomplished? Knowing what triggers conflict in your office will help you know how to handle the situation and begin taking steps to resolve it.

 

Communicate Respectfully

One of the best ways to avoid workplace conflict is to communicate respectfully with your coworkers. The foundation of this is to treat others kindly. Instead of strictly giving orders, ask people for their assistance. Open up dialogue past your latest project by engaging in casual conversation with your coworkers. Do this by asking how their weekend was or if they would share their recipe that made the office smell so good. Communicating respectfully is also relevant with today’s reliance on email communication. Over email people can’t see your facial expressions or body language. They rely solely on your words and the tone of the email to make their perceptions of your mood and intention. Fully explaining your thoughts in a clear, precise manner and not using sarcasm can prevent unintentional tension from arising.

 

Stay Neutral

When workplace conflict does happen, it’s critical that you stay neutral. Picking sides in an office conflict rarely produces good results. Staying neutral allows you to consider the views of everyone involved and act as a third party mediator. It also reduces the probability of you getting dragged into conflict and then other coworkers turn against you as well because you sympathize with one party and not the other. In the circumstance that you do have to intervene in a conflict, don’t simply support someone because they’re your friend. Support them if they’re right and calmly discuss with them if they’re wrong. This will build trust and respect from your coworkers because they know you will do what is right in a situation.

 

Other Tips:

  • Never leave any problem unattended, as a small problem can eventually become a big problem
  • Discuss problems as a group instead of individually so that there’s no misconception of people saying one thing to one person then a completely different thing to another
  • Stay focused on your job and not on what everyone else is doing
  • Pick your battles, fighting over the coffee creamer is not going to do you any good
  • Keep a clear head and think before you speak

 

What do you do to stay clear of workplace tension? Share your strategies in the comments below!

 

 

By: Rebecca Clausen

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