7 Professional Ways to Handle Conflict with a Co-Worker

Are you butting heads with a co-worker? When it comes to issues in the work-place, the professional approach often leads to the best results. Try these 7 professional ways to handle conflict with a co-worker.

1. Don’t Drag Other Colleagues into It

By venting about your workplace conflict to your work bestie, you’re dragging them into it whether you intend to or not. Chances are your friend may have to work with the person you are having a conflict with at one point or another. They may feel disloyal to you as a friend if they have to act as though nothing has happened or they might even act hostile towards the person who is giving you trouble, which could be bad for their career in the long run.

2. Address the Conflict

It’s important to address the conflict with your colleague as soon as possible no matter how small it might be. You might not feel like bringing it up or having a conversation about the issue, but things will only escalate if you let them fester. This doesn’t have to be a dramatic conversation, but it does have to be a productive (and private!) discussion where both parties participate.

3. Be the Bigger Person

You’re probably thinking “why should I have to be the bigger person?”, in short: because it’s the professional thing to do. If the problem escalates and management becomes involved, you need to be able to provide examples of how you’ve attempted to resolve the conflict maturely and professionally even when met with resistance.

4. Don’t Make it Personal

When discussing conflicts, it’s important to focus on actions, behaviours, and events. Comments on your co-worker’s character are likely to offend and this will completely derail your discussion. Instead of saying “you’re aggressive and ignorant” try “I find it hard to work when you are hostile towards, or completely ignore, my contributions.”

5. Listen Before You Talk

When discussing conflicts with a co-worker, you’ll probably have a lot of grievances you want to air but it’s important to be an active listener. By listening, you may find the problem you have with them is completely different to the problem they have with you. Listening is the first step in finding common ground so try not go on the defensive and jump in with a rebuttal after every point your co-worker makes.

6. Develop a Plan Together to Work Through Conflict

The most crucial part in resolving any conflict is developing a plan to avoid issues in future. Work together to address problem areas and find a logical solution. Would issues be resolved by regular meetings to make sure everybody is on the same page? Could negotiating deadlines help you work together better?

7. Talk to a Manager

When all else fails you may have to get a manager involved. This is especially important in conflicts that have escalated to cases of workplace bullying, harassment, or discrimination. When talking to a manager outline how your co-worker is making it difficult for you to work, give examples of how you have tried to resolve issues yourself, and be clear that you’re looking to them for a solution, otherwise it’ll just sound like your complaining.

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