Monday, September 15, 2014

Effective ways to resolve workplace conflict

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We would have all dealt with workplace conflict at some point of time in our professional careers. Strangely enough, the kind of harassment that we deal with in our workplace, sometimes resemble the harrying time we had in our school-days. The bullying from the seniors and harassment dealt out by the bullies somehow starts to feel close to the sensation we have when we are singled-out by someone in office. But fortunately, we are not kids anymore and there are more grown-up ways to resolve our issues at work than we had in our childhood.

We spend the maximum amount of our waking time at work and it is important to have a healthy atmosphere in the workplace. But if we have one or more people trying to make our lives difficult in the office, we have a tough time dealing with our emotions. The negativity we build within ourselves due to the ill-effects of work-place conflict slowly starts to creep into our personal lives, leaving us irritable and bad-tempered. Although it is important to resolve the divergence at the work-place, it is also important to do it effectively and smoothly without damaging our professional careers. Here are some effective ways of dealing with workplace conflict and resolving professional clashes.

Get the facts right: It is sometimes easy to jump into conclusions when we are in a competitive atmosphere and take something which might be harmless professional rivalry to be something more sinister. A healthy competition at the office is absolutely fine and is required for you to grow in your career. You will need to identify what exactly makes you think someone is deliberately trying to undermine you or just showing some friendly competition. Only, when you are absolutely sure that there are grounds for you to feel that someone harbors animosity towards you, and is trying to harm you professionally, should you take any further action. Till then, you should not make a little professional jealousy bother you much and indeed should take that as a sign that you are doing well at your job.

Gather the evidence: Usually, there would be someone at the workplace who will be jealous of anyone who passes them on the way to the top. It might not have anything to do with you personally and could be just the personality of this person. Usually, these people will just try to be a pest by talking behind your back and trying to do some back-biting in the toilets. But most often, this category of people are not taken seriously by anyone and are most often ignored. However, if you have cause for suspecting that someone is deliberately trying to damage your credibility or creating a bad name for you, it is time to gather some data. Maybe, you can take the help of a colleague whom you trust and get this person to talk about you. But you should have enough data against this person to go any further, because hearsay and speculation will not get you anywhere.

Personal confrontation: Although, not always advisable in case you get into a nasty situation, sometimes confronting the colleague who is creating the issues help ease the matter. But for this to work, you have to be a person who knows how to handle his temperament because you would not want to get into a situation where you end up getting a harassment case slammed against you. However, if you are a good negotiator, it is well-worth giving a try to try and find out what this colleague has got against you. It sometimes helps to try and be a little friendly and catch the other person off-guard by asking if you have done something to offend them. 

Usually, such kind of a confrontation, if done with skill, will make this person back-off and he will be too wary to pull off any more stunts to blacken your name in future. But, you will have to be very careful not to give any more ammunition to this person and should retreat if he acts aggressive. You will be playing into the person’s hands if you lose your temper and give him any grounds for complaining against you.

Get your superiors involved: If you have enough hard evidence to back your claim about the efforts being made by this colleague to tarnish your reputation, you could send him a professional warning e-mail and copy in your superiors. It is however, prudent to have a talk with your boss before you drop this bombshell out of the blue and besides, your boss might have some other ideas to deal with the situation. In case you get the go-ahead from your superior, you could draft an e-mail and let the person know that you are onto him and do not appreciate his/her actions. A professional e-mail like that which is also marked to someone in a higher rank should be enough to stop this person’s efforts and give you some relief.

Have a meeting with the Human Resources: It might be that you have found 
yourself being hounded by a very obstinate and skilled person who is doing his/her best to ruin your career. In such cases, it is better to get your superior and the Human Resources involved and sit for a meeting with them on how to deal with the situation. It is sometimes better for you to be not personally involved in these matters and let the HR take whatever course of action they deem fit. This is of course, the last resort that you should take and only in a situation where you feel that a friendly chat or a warning e-mail will not help. Because, taking an action like this might cost the other person his/her career as well. But then, if your career is at stake and there is no other way out, go ahead and get the HR involved, because this person might get away and do the same to someone else.            

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