Can a Workplace Conflict Cost You Your Job?

Being involved in a workplace conflict can make you feel insecure.  You may be worried that your manager will get the wrong impression of you.  This is a valid concern.  However, conflicts happen everyday and when you’re working with other people, they are to be expected.  You don’t get into trouble simply by being involved in a conflict.  However, problems can arise when you don’t handle it appropriately.  Here are some tips to help you address a conflict without risking your job:

Stay out of it.  Sometimes workplace conflict is unavoidable, but if it is at all possible for you to get out of the way, then do it.  There are rarely winners in workplace conflicts, so the less conflicts you are involved in, the better.

Play nice.  It’s advice that your mom gave you for the playground and it still holds true today.  When you are consistently courteous to your coworkers, you will maintain strong working relationships with them and you won’t give them any reason to complain about you.

Don’t put it in writing.  In this age of email communication, it is easy for people to take things out of context.  When you’re involved in a workplace conflict, it is better to communicate with your coworkers in person.  This helps to minimize misunderstandings and it removes the risk of your email being forwarded around the office.

Don’t make it personal.  Remember that you are there to do a job.  In many cases, if you are conflicting with a coworker, it is because there is a problem with the procedures.  It may have absolutely nothing to do with the people involved.  When you resist the temptation to lay blame and instead stay focused on solving the problem, you may find that the solution is right in front of you.

Say sorry.  Nobody enjoys a conflict.  Even when you handle it with the utmost of professionalism, it can still damage your relationship with your coworker.  Do whatever you can to make it better.  Apologize for any inconvenience that you may have caused.  Even if it wasn’t your fault, apologizing can make your work life a little bit easier.

While you may not be able to completely avoid a conflict, you can conduct yourself in such a way that it will not threaten your job.  When you consistently maintain your professionalism and you’re always nice to your coworkers, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get into trouble because of a workplace conflict.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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