Finding a decent job can be difficult. Keeping a decent job can also be frustrating, especially when you have to deal with work conflict from abrasive and uncooperative individuals.
Work conflict is an unfortunate fact of life. You may be forced to interact with types of people where, outside of work, you would avoid like the plague. However, you might have no choice but to deal with them. No, you don’t have to like it.
To avoid work conflict, especially with people you don’t care for, here are eight practical strategies:
Set an excellent example
Avoiding work conflict starts by setting a terrific example of behavior for co-workers and supervisors. Your actions (and reactions) have a way of coming back to you, as reflections of your own personality. Your grandmother may have been right in this case—treat others the way you want to be treated.
Always be friendly
You may be all business at the office, and absolutely hate chit-chat, but that does not mean you have to be grouchy and harsh. You might dislike small talk, and that is all right. At least you should try to find something good to say (perhaps even something lighthearted and complimentary!) Communicating with others will show that you are agreeable. It will also minimize the chances of work conflicts.
Choose the right people to be around
You certainly don’t have to be buddies with everyone. Being friendly and being a friend are two different things. Be careful about which people with whom you put your trust, especially about issues at work. By choosing the right people, work conflicts can be controlled.
Do your work
Wasting time at work will usually lead to some sort of work conflict, especially with people around you. Everybody has the rare slow period, but use that time to surf the Internet for hours, and someone will notice. You can never control what others will say about you, so keep busy at work and don’t give them the opportunity to say anything negative.
Document and keep records
Take notes about your workflow, a significant project or other work issues. Write down things like phone calls, meetings, requests from co-workers and bosses, etc. This way, if your performance is questioned, you will include facts to back up your point of view.
Pick your battles
When there is a potential work conflict, you have two courses of action—engage it, or let it go. The best strategy is to address only things that could result in some sort of professional or personal harm. Beyond major crises, don’t sweat the small stuff.
The three C’s: Cool, Calm, Composed
If someone is trying to start a dispute with you, calmly listen to what they have to say. Let them continue until they run out of steam. Try to understand their point of view, and empathize with the way they are feeling. Apologize for getting them so upset. It will almost always deflects hurtful feelings.
Accept people for who they are
We rarely can choose our co-workers, nor can we control their poor behavior. If you have tried the other ways to avoid work conflicts, there is one last strategy—accept the things that you cannot change. Stay positive and respectful. It works both on the job and in life.