One of the things that can chew up a whole lot of time in the workplace is when you don’t get along with people.
If you’re in a state of conflict with someone around you, it could be a staff member, it could be a peer of yours, it could be a client, then it just makes you unproductive because you can’t trust that when you interact with them things are going to go well.
I ran a workshop the other day for a client of mine who have their next generation of leaders up and coming, and one of the problems in their high volume business is that they can sometimes have strained relationships between their people.
What I talked to them about was five principles for dealing with conflict in the workplace.
If in your career come across people that you find difficult to work with you can apply these five principles to help you manage the situation and hopefully get you back to a state where things are OK and that relationship’s productive again.
Here’s the three problems that most people talk about –
The first one is – When you’re in a state of conflict with someone, the small things become the big things, not putting your coffee cup in the dishwasher, if you’re at home – not picking your clothes up off the floor, (I’m telling my kids about that all the time…) In the workplace – not communicating well. You might in email or in the way you communicate you might leave a word out or use a certain word and in everyday situation that wouldn’t be a problem but because you’re in a state of conflict it becomes a massive thing.
The second thing is – Dealing with difference in the workplace, which is – a lot of people don’t A) want what we want, and B) they think differently in terms of work. They have different values and they have different goals than us, so managing that is one of the ways that we learn to collaborate in the business and if you can’t manage it well, that’s going to make it difficult.
The third one is – emotion. Emotions in the workplace are real, but many people spend their time trying to avoid them. The great thing about emotions is they are a massive motivator. I talk about two types of emotions, either hot emotions, anger emotions, or cold emotions where we withdraw within ourselves. Either of them, being aware of them is a way that we can manage ourself well.
So here’s the five principles, the first one is – You’ve got to know where your line is.
OK, when I talk about your line – if you’re above the line you’re emotionally in control. You’re calm. and you’re able to make sensible decisions. If you’re below the line yes, you’re out of control, OK. You’re too emotional, you are not in a great place to be able to manage the situation. So the first one is being aware of where that line is for you.
The second one is – remain open to others. So in any situation or with anything that happens, it doesn’t matter whether it’s small or large you’ve got the actions you took, your feelings and your thoughts about the situation, but so does the other person and remaining open allows you to see that there are two sides to any story and it allows you to work through what the issue was and hopefully find a solution.
The third one is – maintain the relationship. Because once the relationship is impacted… There’s a certain transition that happens in conflict where you’re actually in conflict about a thing and then eventually you just don’t like the person. If it gets to that point it’s much harder for it to come back. So the whole idea is – at all costs, in that initial phase, try to maintain the openness in the relationship with the other person because it just allows you to fix the issue faster.
The fourth one is – try to find a simple fix. A quick solution to the problem that you can implement before the relationship is impacted.
Number five is – it’s really important if you do get in a state of conflict, especially relationship conflict, that you’re able to maintain your own resilience. So keep your exercise, keep your hydration, keep your nutrition, all the things that I’ve talked about before that are important.
So here’s my summary – There’s some really core problems that happen with conflict in the workplace. It’s about managing your own emotions, and making sure that you behave in a certain way that keeps things productive, and collaborative.
If you do get in a state of conflict, here are the five principles.
First one is – know where your line is. Are you above it or are you below it in any situation? If you can’t be above it, then don’t engage and do it at another time.
Second is – remain open, remember there’s two points of view.
Third is – aim to maintain the relationship.
Fourth – Start with a simple fix to the problem.
And the fifth is – you’ve got to maintain your own resilience.
Conflict is a part of working with others, and it’s a part of working with others that are different to you. These five principles that can help you turn a situation that could suck all your time into one that could be a really great relationship for you.
If you end up in a state of conflict, pass this video on or use it for yourself.
See you next time on The Reason & The Road.