When a conflict arises the best thing is to usually separate yourself from it, but when that conflict is taking place where you work it can be nearly impossible to do so. Whether it’s an argument, disagreement, or a full-blown fist-fight (believe me, it happens), finding an appropriate way to deal with it is often the difference between being reprimanded/punished and being able to continue your day in a regular fashion.
Whenever I find myself in some kind of confrontation with someone I always take a few moments (usually while the other person is talking/yelling/whatever) to determine if it’s even worth my time. Has something happened that deserves a significantly negative response from me? Has the other party done something to justify a response, or are they reacting to something that justifies a response? And, of course, will this actually solve anything?
Most of the time the last question is almost always a “no”, and so I simply move on. That doesn’t always end the argument, however, and often simply “moving on” leaves a fair bit of animosity remaining on both sides. So how do you deal with that?
- Seek a professional solution.
Keeping control of your senses and seeking out a professional way to conclude the conflict is the smart move here. Don’t belittle the other party, don’t ignore them, and don’t lash out that them. Simply state that there’s no reason for the conflict to continue and that you want to end it now. Ask for concessions on their end, just as you will have to give concessions as well.
Most (rational) people have no problem with compromise as long as they feel they are being treated fairly.
- De-escalate the situation.
If it’s an “in your face” argument, tone it down. Lower your voice and ask the other party to do the same. If they refuse, simply inform them that you won’t continue this conversation so long as they are going to act in that way. Once they’ve calmed down, come to a rational conclusion. What have you done that’s upset them? What have they done that’s upset you?
Answer both questions and a compromise will almost always appear.
- Do not gossip or drag it on.
Offices can be a breeding ground for social gossip and chit-chat. Participating in it makes you as guilty of perpetuating a conflict as anyone else, even if you aren’t directly involved. The bottom line is that you don’t need to go there, so don’t. It will save you headaches down the road.
- Seek a higher authority when necessary.
This is your work, not a playground. If someone else is going out of their way to make your life miserable talk to your boss. Let them know what’s going on, and ask them to bring about some kind of solution. That’s part of the reason why they’re there in the first place, so take advantage of it.
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