Getting Along in the Workplace

5/10/2006

Despite our best efforts, most of us won’t be able to get along with everyone we work with all of the time. Although workplace conflicts are common, they don’t have to continue. When problems surface, consider these guidelines: 

Examine Yourself First 
Are you the problem? Ask informed and reliable individuals if you have behavioral or personality patterns that are likely to conflict with your colleagues. After examining those patterns, accept responsibility. Admit that you have played a role in bringing about the behaviors causing the conflict. Whenever you accept your share of the responsibility, others are more likely to accept theirs as well. 

Face the Problem 
Speak candidly with those individuals who concern you. Present a positive and solution-oriented attitude, and emphasize your desire for improvement. You’ll either clear the air and create a better relationship or confirm that it’s better to just do what you can to establish a somewhat distant “live and let live” posture. 

Be Aware of Your Messages 
Attempt to understand the other person’s perspective. Find out what motivates that person so you can offer alternative ways of solving the problem. Avoid comments such as, “You shouldn’t be that way,” or “You always do that.” Comments of this type often create resistance to efforts toward problem solving. 

Present a Posture of Fairness 
Treat everyone well regardless of how others treat you. Be strong, but thoughtful and polite. Listen and respond to the other person’s concerns. Allow the person to fully express his or her feelings and opinions, then acknowledge your awareness of the situation. Describe what you understand the concerns to be and then present your own posture in a professional manner. 

Seek Common Ground 
Use breaks and social gatherings to help you become aware of the interests and concerns of those you work with. You may discover that you have areas of common interest with which to build more comfortable working relationships.