Office conflict is something we all have to face from time to time. A problem pops up out of the dusty underbelly of office politics and now you have to deal with it. This conflict, or rather our complaints about it, are usually absorbed by the closest sort of trustworthy bystander. Now, we all know gossip is only fuel on the fire of conflict, but the frustration is building and you just can’t bring yourself to face the problem head-on just yet. Push comes to shove and inevitably you need to have that tough conversation you have been avoiding for far, far too long. How do you deal with this conflict in the best possible way? You need to be prepared.
Quickly determine who is affected by this conflict and who is affecting it and in which ways. Who are you hurting? Who is gaining? What would be beneficial to who? Is this conflict impacting the whole office’s mood or performance or is it a more person dispute? This will help you determine exactly what the problem is and who or what the source of the conflict is. You need to take other people and their needs into account, as well as your own.
Depending on whether you are a cup half-full or half-empty kind of guy, you have been running either the best or worst case scenarios in your head, but what would actually be an acceptable outcome to the conversation? What do you hope to achieve? What is an unacceptable result? What compromises are you willing make? You should have a couple of acceptable outcomes listed in your head that need to be fulfilled for the conversation to be deemed successful. If you go in with a noise complaint and leave with a tambourine the problem has not really been solved, has it?
You don’t want this conflict to unravel into a big thing, but you just can’t avoid it any longer. There are two important things to consider here: Tone and generalisations. Tone is to keep yourself calm. Yelling and screaming don’t solve a thing, especially not if you are confronting your boss. Be aware of your tone and the fact that conflict is, by its nature, stressful and will challenge you to lose your cool. Now to keep them calm and off of the defence. Do not generalise! ‘You always…’ is not a good way to start any sentence if you want things to go well. Also, admit to the fact that Mr/Ms conflict-causer is not the only one in the world that does this type of thing. Admit your mistakes or point out that this could be a valuable lesson for the future.
Conflict is always going to be around. Any place with people has politics and learning to deal with them both is the quickest route to happiness.