How To Deal With Workplace Conflict

The GradTouch team recently spotted this hilarious example of workplace conflict:

Complaint 2Complaint

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David Thorne, is without a doubt, an evil genius.
But as entertaining as Simon and David's conflict is  it does beg the question: How should you deal with workplace conflict?!

So, here are some GradTouch hints on how to keep your cool in the office:

Take a deep breath and count to 10!

Clichéd as it sounds, getting caught up in the heat of the moment can perhaps be the worst mistake you can make during a confrontation - for two reasons.

Firstly, you are very likely to say something you regret. ‘Shut up Dave, you should have never got that promotion anyway’ is not something that is likely to serve you well in the future.

Secondly, because speaking rashly gives your colleagues a bad impression of your temperament. At work you always want to appear logical, calm and objective, this should be no different when you’re faced with a confrontation.

Choose your battles wisely

Sandra used some of your coffee. You’ve always disliked her, and now she’s taken it one step too far and used a generous spoonful of your Nescafe Gold Blend. 

Time to launch your attack, isn’t it? No! Hold fire.

Once there's tension between you and a colleague, there's a temptation to become overly defensive about everything.

Think how you would feel if someone else in the office (that you do like) did the same thing. If you would cut them some slack, do the same for your ‘nemesis’ Sandra to avoid looking petty.

Giving your colleague a bit of lee-way on coffee-esqe. issues, means they will be more amenable to you when you really need them to be, e.g. an important work project, or when they make a bee-line for your chocolate digestives (only joking with the second one).

Get outside!

Whatever you do, don't argue in front of the rest of the office. It adds unnecessary pressure and encourages people to take sides. It also makes it difficult for either you or your ‘opponent’ to back down, as no-one will want to lose face in public; your argument can be blown way out of proportion.

Instead, suggest grabbing lunch with the person/people you are at odds with, or go for a wander outside to talk it out.

Try not to gossip​

Gossiping at work is a dangerous game to play and can instigate a lot of conflict. If you work in a small office it’s particularly likely that what you have said about someone (or what they have said about you) will rear its ugly head again.

Avoiding a good gossip can therefore nip conflict in the bud, avoiding the whole palaver altogether

And finally…

Be ready!

A workplace free from arguments would be a blissful place indeed. But just as you fall out with your family or your friends, you will at some point fall out with (at least a couple of) your colleagues.

Recognise that conflict is a normal, un-avoidable part of professional life, you’ll be less likely to over react and take it personally.

Rather than burying your head in the sand, accept conflict; try to deal with conflict in a productive way. Address issues as soon as possible, rather than letting it fester.
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