GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) — A workplace is full of people with varying personalities and opinions. Sometimes these opinions and personalities clash, resulting in problems in the office. In recognition of Workplace Conflict Awareness Month and for general use, here are five tips for resolving workplace disagreements:
1. Give each other space
It’s hard to address an issue head when you’ve waited until the situation has continued for long periods of time or when tempers are flaring Don’t wait three weeks to address your co-worker about never doing their dishes they leave in the sink when you’ve noticed it after a week. Don’t immediately expect a solution to a problem when you catch someone off guard or when you first bring it up. Honestly, the person is probably going to be annoyed, offended and angry or a combination of the three. No one likes to be called out. Address your concerns in a non-threatening and non-accusatory manner and then give them say, 24 hours, to come up with a solution if it’s a problem that needs to be thought about. If it’s something simpler like dishes in the sink express how their lack of consideration makes you feel and then give them time to change. You may even need to address the situation a second time. Only after a conversation and adequate attempts at a resolution (usually one – two times) do you, if necessary, involve higher-ups.
2. Give the other person the opportunity to offer a solution
If you have an issue with a co-worker, let them know and then ask them to create a solution. This might help them feel in control and prevent them from feeling like you’re telling them what to do. If they cannot think of anything or you can’t or you prefer not to be the problem-solver, you can bring in another co-worker for a neutral third opinion.
3. Stay Positive
Don’t assume because a workplace conflict keeps occurring, the person is unwilling to hear your concerns or unable to. Sometimes conflicts arise because there is miscommunication between co-workers or no one has addressed the issue. Before drawing negative conclusions about the situation and/or person approach them calmly and respectfully and air your grievances. Other problems can result from a person feeling as if their co-worker is unapproachable. Let the person know they can talk to you about problems. Be respectful each time someone complains to you and things can improve much faster.
4. Be an active listener
A lot of times people listen with the intent to respond, not the intent to actually understand what the other person is saying. Does a co-worker say you’re not pulling your weight? Before you get defensive and fire back your list of responses, take the time to really listen and consider the other person’s point of view. You may not necessarily agree, but you can address their issues and together you both can find a solution to their concerns.
5. Think about your position in workplace conflicts
A lot of the times we are the “victim” unaware of the problems we are causing or escalating. Going behind someone’s back straight to a superior before approaching the person and trying to address the issue on your own is inconsiderate and unprofessional. As a professional in the workplace, dealing with different people and personalities will be a regular occurrence. You should be able to work out issues with other co-workers and only in dire situations involve your boss or another superior.