How to Resolve In-Work Disputes
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2017 by The Office Zen Master — No comments
Disputes in the workplace are part and parcel of office life – there’s no getting away from that. The work environment can often be a stressful place, with challenging deadlines, demanding clients, and high workloads, whether you're in a temporary PA job or an Office Manager. Many busy workplaces are also packed with hundreds of different people, with different personalities and traits - so it’s totally normal that some of these employees may not be able to see eye-to-eye on certain topics.
If disputes are unavoidable, the only thing we can do is ensure we resolve them properly when they arise. If you think you could end up in a dispute with a colleague at work, or if you’ve been in one before and want to learn how you could have handled it better, here are our top tips to help you navigate the situation with integrity.
Always stay as calm as possible in any dispute. Escalation and aggression is the fastest way to turn a minor disagreement into major conflict, which could then affect the entire workplace. It may be hard to bite your tongue at times, but you’ll avoid creating drama, and you’ll certainly come off better in the eyes of your superiors if they’re called in to mediate.
Have a little empathy
Arguments at work often occur because people are passionate about what they do. The next time you get into a disagreement with someone, ask yourself why they might be feeling so strongly about their point of view, and try to put yourself in their shoes. It won’t make you look weak if you try to understand where another person is coming from – it makes you look like you can rise above the problem and negotiate it effectively (a bona fide leadership skill that your employers will certainly take note of).
Tackle the problem, not the person
It can be tempting to get personal when arguing at work, especially if the other party has already stooped to that level. But your points will be communicated more effectively if you remain professional at all times. This will also boost the chances of the situation being resolved before it goes too far.
Always keep a record of relevant events to ensure you’ll have some evidence to back up your side of the story if things are escalated. You can jot down any conversations or incidents with the dates, times, and a short description of what happened, and you can collate communications such as emails and memos to bolster your case.
Go the official route
Your company is likely to have various disciplinary, grievance, and dispute procedures written into your contract, as well as the option for mediation. If you feel you can’t resolve your dispute personally, talk to your superiors about going through these official procedures.
Be able to move on
If you’re going to be working in close proximity with the person you’ve disagreed with, it’s important to be able to put your dispute in the past and move on, for the good of the company. Once the matter has been resolved, try not to hold a grudge or bring up the past – it’s time for a fresh start that will help both of you grow as employees.
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