Organizations have diverse teams focused on achieving a multitude of goals often with limited resources. Often, when resources such as staff or equipment are scarce some staff may engage in conflicts at work impacting office productivity. There are several ways to approach business conflicts: avoidance, acceptance or using a litany of anger. Business people learn how to respond to conflict based on good or bad experiences and childhood lessons.
When a person avoids handling conflict at work, it is because she or he may possess a negative perception regarding conflict situations. For example, some people believe there are only winners and losers in conflicts. The concept of a 50/50 chance of losing will make any one steer clear of office conflicts. However, avoiding a work place issue will lead to disdain among peers instead a meaningful approach to resolution.
In addition, accepting that work place strife occurs no matter how you plan your day has both positive and negative implications. For example, if you accept that every day you go to work a conflict will occur, you may become disenchanted about being frustrated on a regular basis. Sometimes the only answer to accepting that your office has work place drama is leaving to find a more harmonious work environment. One drawback to accepting that only bad things happen at work is the feeling of hopelessness and detachment from the group.
On the other hand some folks may approach work place discord with a negative response mostly because they feel empowered by title or due to a history of leveraging anger to win office battles. When a person uses antagonism as the only response to work place conflicts it results in a detrimental impact to the team’s psyche and health. Next time you feel like reacting in a angry way to a conflict, take a step back to consider if the issue is really something to get upset over or not. Then try to refocus your energy on how the issue may become a good opportunity for you to practice your problem solving skills.
An additional option I recently learned about from the book “Getting to Yes” by William Ury suggests having a “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or a BATNA”. In essence, a “BATNA” is backup plan to achieving your goals. Sometimes using compromise to resolve conflict is an optimum way to move the entire team forward.
There are other ways to approach tense business situations without ire or incurring negative feelings.
7 Tips on how to cope with office conflicts:
- Take a pause to determine if the issue is you or something else creating the problem
- Delay your reaction until a calm and clear resolution created
- Don’t use email or voice mail as the only way to solve conflicts
- Think about how your negative response may impact your peers
- Listen to the other person’s concerns objectively
- Re-frame your perception that all conflicts are “bad things”
- Focus on improving your internal locust of control so you can manage your feelings effectively
Tracey Batacan is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.