I listened to a story about a workplace situation the other day where, let’s say Jim would fully understand the project details in a one-on-one setting, but when the team got together and upper management was around, Jim became like a deer stuck in headlights.
Has this ever happened to you?
He would suddenly appear to have no understanding of anything his teammate (let’s call her Suzette) was presenting, and instead would become very critical of the project. Suzette was extremely frustrated by this behavior and began looking for ways to expose this tactic to upper management. She had been trying to get Jim to share what was confusing to him right on the spot, but that wasn’t working.
After a few conversations with Suzette, we realized that there was an opportunity to address this issue and gain an understanding of Jim’s motivations at their next one-on-one meeting. This required Suzette to address the issue head-on. With support, she agreed. But one week later, she still hadn’t done so, realizing she wasn’t quite ready to confront Jim.
Conflict is inevitable in any work environment where people from different backgrounds come together in teams to accomplish a certain task. This offers a good opportunity to resolve hidden differences that co-workers might have, but let’s face it, it’s not a walk in the park.
Before you raise this issue with the boss, here are 7 things your boss wants you to know about conflict:
1) Your boss does not like conflict either
The first thing that your managers would want you to know about conflict is that they do not like it either. Quarrels and differences between co-workers or between employees and managers will only derail the entire team from achieving its objective in the marketplace. This will ultimately lead to decreased revenues and massive layoffs as the organization becomes incapable of fending for itself. As a result, your boss wants everyone more focused on working to achieve his or her individual goals for the organization and less focused on in fighting.
2) Your boss expects you to be emotionally mature
Managers want you to control and actively work on controlling your emotions at work. While social connection is important, the focus is on getting work done so that the team or company can achieve its goals. This will not happen if you lash out at everyone for no reason, or if you frequently break down at the office. Everyone has emotional challenges at work; however, extremes of emotion are not helpful in the workplace. They only cause distractions, or create tension and anger, a vicious cycle that any manager or employer wants to avoid like the plague.
3) Your boss wants you to resolve small conflicts before approaching him or her
Managers don’t want to be constantly harassed and bothered by small arguments between co-workers that could be resolved if they only sat down and communicated with the other party in the conflict. Most conflicts arise and persist because of a breakdown of communication. Being able to sort small differences before taking them to the boss is a valuable quality to demonstrate in any organization.
4) Your boss expects you to be prepared to accept criticisms
You will not always be on the right side of a conflict. Acknowledging this fact and accepting corrections will certainly make your manager’s job easier and improve relations with your coworkers. This will lead to an efficient organization that will achieve its goals, leading to happiness for everyone involved.
5) Your boss expects genuine communication aimed at providing solutions
Your boss wants you to know that genuine team communication is the key to resolving conflict and to working together. Learn to actually listen to what your coworker is saying and to internalize it before responding or retaliating. Viewing things from the other party’s point of view helps to prevent and resolve conflicts in the workplace before they escalate and erupt.
6) Your boss expects you to adhere to certain ground rules while working together
Ground rules such as a basic respect for each coworker and tolerance of other people is expected in all organizations that want to succeed in the market. What was considered a “soft skill” (communication) is actually a hard skill for many to master. Start with showing respect.
7) Your boss wants you to want to resolve conflict and to be ready to work together
Your boss wants you to be interested in working things out with an aggrieved party. He or she wants you to be enthusiastic about mending fences and working together again. Coupled with team communication and tolerance, these qualities will make you an indispensable part of the organization.
Avoiding conflict is easy, but often comes at a painful price.
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