We’ve all been there where a boss has practically made your life a living hell or a co-worker who always seems to turn things against you. It could be those problems you have with the rigid culture of your company or the favoritism of your boss. Whatever it might be, workplace conflicts bogs you down and wears you out. It leads to job distress, aggravation and neglect – eventually leads you to resign from the company.
But there’s always a way out for everything – same with workplace conflicts as well. If approached in a tactful way, workplace conflicts are not something to be afraid of. It is a way to get all of your colleagues on the same page and work towards a common objective – your company’s mission. Let’s see how we can do that.
Workplace conflicts, in its simplest form, means differences between people at work. Differences in opinions and conflict of interests. It all boils down to one basic thing – human relationships and communications.
So, let’s check out a few rules here that will make you a pro at dealing with workplace conflict and bring you the fame of being the most likeable person in the office:
Rule #1 – Never trash-talk your boss/colleagues at your workplace
Ideally, not just at your workplace, but anywhere, because the rule is simple – it doesn’t get you anywhere – won’t solve your issues or get rid of your boss! Stay away from any kind of drama – it saves you energy, time and peace of mind.
There’s one more point to remember here – all those people that nod along with you now can go about leaking your secrets everywhere and that might get back to you like a dragon. Moreover, no one trusts that person who always talks ill of others – because this person could be doing the same behind your back, who knows?
Rule #2 – Be aware of the way you react
In the case of any conflict with a boss or co-worker, most people get into a fight or flight mode – both of which are of no advantage to the person in question. Instinctive fight reactions will cause you more harm than good – these momentary, impulsive reactions now might make you pay a heavy price later.
But not reacting at all could be destructive – you might be taken for granted. Neither of the options is desirable for a healthy career growth.
Winning at office conflicts requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Remember that no matter how terrible the situation is, you could always choose the way you react. So, how do you choose to react?
Rule #3 – Seek to understand, before being understood!
This is that one quality that makes you instantly likeable. It is one of the important reasons behind the top managers and business leaders getting there. Simply put, possessing this quality immediately differentiates you from the rest.
Instinctively, we are more inclined towards getting others to understand us rather than trying to empathize with them. Most people feel wronged for this reason.
Once you make an effort to listen to the other party and try to understand where he/she is coming from, they’re likely to drop their guards and address your concerns in return. This sets the scene for both the parties to communicate and arrive at a common solution.
Arriving at a solution without acknowledging individual concerns is always a battle uphill, you might never land up at the ideal solution.
That brings me to this critical point –
Giving priority to everyone in the workplace is an invaluable skill - no matter you’re an employee or an employer! It stimulates your career and drives it in the right direction.
Rule #4 – Focus on winning your objective, not the argument
Your approach to a conflict speaks volumes about you. Focusing on the differences of opinion is a self-defeating approach. You might win the argument temporarily, but there’s no gain in it except for satisfying your (huge) ego for a minute.
Rather than fighting to emerge as a winner, emphasize the business objective. In the interest of what’s best for business, discuss the ups and downs of each option. Get your colleagues to realize that it is the business that should win eventually – if your business objectives aren’t met, then no one wins in the organization.
By steering the discussion in this direction, you’ll learn to think beyond these petty differences and come across as someone who is interested in getting things done. You’ll be appreciated as someone who’s mature and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.
Rule #5 – Don’t ever get personal
It is not uncommon in the workplace to get really angry with someone. It happens - happens all the time! There will also be those times when you really want to give this person a piece of your mind.
Stop there. Don’t. Suppress the urge to teach that co-worker a lesson.
People tend to remember the times when they were humiliated. Being victorious for a fleeting moment of dispute might seem like a good thing now, but it will surely backfire later.
Anything that goes around will come around, karma works! And it works even better in the workplace. Remember, to win in the office, you have to build a network – a network of co-workers you can depend on. You wouldn’t want a colleague to screw you when you need them the most just because you enjoyed a moment of an emotional outburst at their expense.
Also, organizations these days are taking a 360 degrees overview while considering for promotions. The last thing you’d want is to make things difficult for you in the office, right?
Rule #6 – Think Win-Win
This is the golden rule of the workplace. All through our childhood, we’re taught that for us to win, someone else has to lose. And hence, we’re afraid to lose, because it means winning for someone else.
But it doesn’t have to be the case always.
Think a way out for both the parties involved in the conflict. Ponder “how can we both win in this situation?”. For this, you first need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and attempt to understand his perspective. Then think about what point are you trying to drive home.
Come up with a solution that addresses both the parties’ concerns and is beneficial to the main purpose.
Doing this will not only make you come across as understanding and positive but also develop trust with your coworkers.
The fundamental aspect to keep in mind in regards to workplace conflicts is to always think long term. Your office is a place where you need to work as a team towards a common objective.
Building allies you can rely on during a crisis – let this be the deciding factor of the kind of relationships you build at your workplace.
Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that will help you win at workplace conflicts in the long term.
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