Much like conflict in our personal lives, conflict in the workplace can be difficult to avoid. Disputes among co-workers are often resolved among the parties involved without a hitch. However, it can sometimes be necessary to contact your human resources department or upper management to solve the problem if the dispute cannot be settled.
Part of handling conflict effectively is knowing what type of workplace conflict you’re dealing with when the problem arises.
A change of leadership such as a new supervisor or managerial staff can cause great conflict among employees. A sudden change in leadership can take some time getting used to, and may be stressful for you and your fellow co-workers in the process.
Drastic changes to leadership on the job takes people out of their comfort zone as they try to adjust to new rules and techniques, all while maintaining their workload. While it may seem daunting at first, much of this conflict can be avoided by providing a clear summary of any changes being made to rules in the workplace.
Conflicts of Character
Personality conflicts are some of the most common issues among co-workers. It can be difficult to pick up on social cues you’re not accustomed to, or understand mannerisms that differ from your own and the people you are regularly in contact with. It’s best to try not to take things so personally to avoid unnecessary confrontation.
If you can’t think of a reason why your colleague is acting negatively toward you, you may have picked up on something that wasn’t there. It’s very unlikely that your co-worker arbitrarily decided to be rude to you.
It’s Easier to Change Yourself Than to Change Others
Typically, change for the better is not easy for anyone to attain. You can’t just snap your fingers or wave a magic wand and expect said changes to occur overnight. But, think of how great it would be if it was actually possible to accomplish the task!
However, keep this in mind. While it is possible to change yourself (with some effort involved – sometimes more than you’re willing to put into it), it’s extremely difficult to change others. More to the point, when you take time to think about it, do you really have that right?
It’s hard to change a situation when you don’t have back history and all of the facts. The same thing is true with a person. Until you’ve actually walked in someone’s shoes, you don’t know why that person acts the way they do. You may have a general idea, but generalities just aren’t enough.
Whether you’re at work or in another location, when the mood strikes you to want to change someone, try this instead. Think about things YOU can do to improve upon the issue. Coming right out and telling someone that you think they need to change is a sure way to initiate bad feelings between the two of you. Honestly, how would you feel if the tables were turned and someone was telling you that you need to alter the way you do things?
A good example of this relates to time management. You notice one of your co-workers is finding it difficult to stay on schedule in regards to completing a project. Instead of going to your manager with a complaint, why not ask the boss if there’s some way that you can help the individual stay on track? You might even learn something new in the process.
If someone wants to change and asks for your help, it’s a completely different matter. Doing all you can to assist them will help to ensure the transformation they hope to achieve. Sometimes, all the individual needs is a push in the right direction. Look at it this way: they’d probably do the same for you.
When to Call In the Boss
Many interpersonal conflicts at work can be solved without getting management involved. Your co-workers are adults, and you should be able to work out a reasonable outcome to any dispute you may have. While it is a good idea to keep your boss informed on what’s going on between you and your co-workers, going to them with every issue may lead your fellow employees to believe that you aren’t willing to listen to their side of the story.
However, if neither of you want to budge on the issue, it may be a good idea to get a supervisor or HR representative to mediate the conflict for you. Set up a time when you can all meet to work out the issue. With a neutral party involved to hear both sides of the story, they may be more inclined to curb whatever behavior was causing a problem.