Dealing with Co-Worker Conflicts in the Workplace

July 13, 2012

Have you ever experienced a conflict with a colleague at work? It can happen to anyone. The day starts out seemingly uneventful, until the morning staff meeting to go over an important project. Then, within a few minutes of conversation, someone contradicts you in a statement in an unprofessional way. This puts you into a negative mood, making for an unpleasant day and most likely setting the stage for ongoing conflict with this colleague.

Why do conflicts with co-workers happen?

There can be a variety of reasons why conflicts among co-workers occur. It’s important to understand that people always have their own internal agendas, especially in the workplace. Sometimes, without realizing it, this can cause a personal conflict that crosses over into a personal exchange of words or actions. This results in negative reactions, which cannot be controlled at times. Yet, through tactful communication and respect, most conflicts can be resolved quickly to produce greater harmony and team spirit.

When conflict arises with a co-worker, how can you handle it?

The first rule of thumb in any conflicting situation with a co-worker is to allow a cooling off period. Never go on the attack and become confrontational with a colleague. This is highly unprofessional and makes things worse. Allow yourself and the other party time to process what has transpired, usually at least 24 hours.

Second, accept responsibility for your part in the conflict, even if you believe it was not your fault. Taking responsibility will help you to see things from the other person’s perspective, and will give you a chance to understand what happened. It also helps you to learn from this experience, instead of being traumatized.

After the cooling off and reflection period are over, it’s time for you to be the professional and schedule a one-on-one meeting with the person who you have the conflict with. Very often, just taking the time to acknowledge there is a conflict and that you want to resolve it can go a long way in smoothing things over.

Use this time wisely. Open up by reviewing the event as it happened, then give the other person a chance to share his side of the event. Then state that you want to work this out so that there are no hard feelings or issues moving forward. State a good quality about the other person and let him know you respect him and the talents he brings to the table. Then state that you are responsible for your side of things. Let the other person react.

Communication – the key to resolving conflicts

Obviously, the conflict may not end instantly with this meeting, but by being honest and communicating directly to the other person you are opening up the door to a more positive and professional working environment.

Learn how to be a better communicator by taking a Dale Carnegie course this year!

This post is brought to you by Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, expert providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook!

Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici

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