Workplaces are a great source of conflict. The following are just some of the symptoms:
- Gossip being an ordinary and accepted form of communication.
- Management rarely appreciating or encouraging new ideas.
- An atmosphere of secrecy and hidden agendas.
- Workaholism not only accepted, but encouraged.
- Competitiveness and power struggles abounding.
- Individuals and departments protecting their turf fiercely.
- Discrimination being common.
- Lower-level workers walking on eggshells around management.
- Unethical and dishonest behaviours common place.
- The workplace not being a pleasant and energising place to be.
- Open and honest communication rare or non-existent
- White lies, petty theft and cheating being usual.
- Employee/Management communication conflicted
- Going home from work feeling defeated
- Worrying about work at home.
If you want to go to work, do the job to the best of your ability and get on with everyone, here are some top tips for avoiding workplace conflict:
Keep calm; Remember that the workplace is a community. To be in community people need fairness. Not everything that happens will be fair and you will not like some strategies or outcomes. Remaining calm will always earn you respect.
Care for others; When things happen that you don’t agree with try to hear everyone’s point of view. If that can’t be done in the moment, make time later to find out how people are; check in with them. You will always be regarded as fair when you do that.
Take care of yourself; Think about your own well being. For example, your tolerances will be different if you have slept well. If you have pressures in your life it will affect your ability to see the world calmly. When you take care of your well being others will see you as balanced and centred.
Be assertive; When you feel motivated to act, be assertive. Have the courage to express your opinions in an honest and respectful manner. Express yourself clearly and articulately without aggression. You will earn the trust and confidence of your colleagues.
Respond, don’t react; Take time to ensure that you are giving a heartfelt response rather than a kneejerk reaction to any surprise situations. Your opinions will be valued when you can be trusted not to react.
Respect; learn what respect means to individuals. For example eye contact in some cultures is disrespectful while it is considered a mark of respect in others. Tell people what respect means to you in practical terms. You will earn the respect of your colleagues.
Check your intentions; if your intentions are honourable you will be credible. If your intentions are to damage or hurt others in order to succeed, you will court conflict. This might include taking a step back from gossiping and rumour-mongering.
Anticipate difficulties; if you can sense a problem looming, nip it in the bud. Communicate your concerns as early as possible in a process. Ask for specific help or offer specific help.
Remain open minded; Remember that the world would be a very boring place if everyone agreed on everything. If you wish to voice an opinion, be sure to balance it with other opinions.
Give credit; Always offer thanks and recognition for any co-operation or collaboration you receive. You will be seen as considerate and caring when making this a regular part of your working practice.
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