Career success

How To Survive Workplace Conflicts

This guide covers the general rules to deal with any conflicts in the workplace, dealing with bullies at work, angry co-workers as well as uncooperative colleagues.


1. Dealing with conflicts with a colleague

There is a rich variety of bad behavior at work- from bullies and gossips to mean and disrespectful, a workplace harbors all sorts of animals. The most common examples of conflicts with a colleague arise when colleagues spread misinformation about you, or they don't respect your authority.


- In case, they disrespect your authority, make sure you have explained clearly what you need from everyone, including the disrespecting colleague. Leave no space for ambiguity.


- In almost all cases of conflicts with colleagues, these guidelines will do:


Try to understand the reason for the behavior: Most people act aggressively at work because they feel threatened. Then, ask yourself whether you’re being overly sensitive or misinterpreting the situation.


Whenever the colleague starts with his behavior, take the person on directly, face-to-face, explaining what was expected and what happened instead.


Never be defensive. Don't take the blame which has no reason backing it.


Be calm. Pretend your children are watching. Explain to the person that you also need to understand the reasons behind the colleague's disagreement/behavior ('I want to know more about your take on the issue.'.)


Don't treat the person as someone lacking in skills or something else.


Try to find a common ground- find some issue that you both agree on. Never gossip about the issue.


If the behavior persists, or the person just keeps on arguing more instead of working, waste no time, take it with the bosses.


When talking with the bosses about the situation, always frame it in terms of how the situation/the behavior is affecting the business of the company. ('no funds are being released for marketing payments because of obstructionist behavior of person X')


2. Dealing with a bully

The bully only changes when they are publicly fired. Most other things don’t work.


3. Dealing with colleagues who won't help you

Show them the WIFM (what's in for me?) statement. Also show them how much you appreciate their value. Gratitude works, more than anything else.


4. Dealing with an angry co-worker

Confront the person ASAP. (Unless you are sure it is a passing phase). If you see co-workers fighting, alert the bosses and the guards rather than going in straight to intervene. The situation with an angry co-worker is trickier, so the events before the matter reaches the bosses, here are the best practices for a face-to-face talk with the angry person.


Tell them, “I need for this to be a professional conversation.. Focus on their behavior rather than arguing. Keep the focus on their inappropriate behavior- if you find them shouting, slamming their hand or on the desk (or something else), cursing, abusing etc. tell them straightaway you will not continue the conversation. and the like.


Be calm and use their name, which makes people 'closer', yet paying attention.


Take safety precautions: Never be less than 3 arms length close to the other person. Don't touch the person. Don't let the person sit between you and the door. If you suspect things will get physical, have the talk in public, out on the floor where people are watching, and where your friends can intervene (forget the first advice on top for now, okay?)


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.