Getting into a disagreement or conflict at work is very common. It will get the best of you sometimes. But based on my experiences, if you let it get to you, it won’t make things better. That urge to act out is strong. Trust me I know, I’ve made the mistake of letting conflict get the best of me quite a few times in my life. But after each time, I’ve learned a few things. This article shares some of my lessons learned and I hope it saves you some of the heartaches I’ve felt over the years. Below are the 3 ways to deal with conflict at work that I feel helped me the most, but this is not an exhaustive list.
Dealing with conflict at work is a very politically heavy thing to do. There is a right way and a wrong day to deal with it. Some of the techniques out there may not make a lot of sense, but in my experience, the commonality among all of them is to take control of your emotions.
Take a Breath
This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. If you are in the middle of a work conflict and your blood pressure is rising, walk away and take a breath. The situation will be dealt with eventually. But talking about it at the moment, while you are boiling is not the best way to deal with that situation. A few years ago a Navy Chaplain turned me on to this and man did it change my life. I was calmer in a lot more situations. I stopped losing battles that I was in the right to win.
You have the right to be angry. But dealing with it before you take that breath, no matter if you are in the right will make you look like the bad guy. No one will find a way to be on your side. So, stay calm, walk away, take a breath, and think through the options to rectify the situation.
Don’t Deal with it Angry or Upset
One of the best books I’ve read that helped me with anger is the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. Anger is one of those things that I was not good at controlling. In fact, I was a hot head and I would shoot from the hip and would deal with conflict angry all the time. Which never helped out my situation. Even if I was in the right and did nothing wrong, because I dealt with it angry, I was the one that became the villain. So, if you feel like you have to argue your point at that moment, just know that you don’t. Walk away and do what we talked about in the earlier section, take a breath! The time to deal with that situation will come, so be patient and get your thoughts and emotions in check.
Understand You are Not Alone
This is something that took me a long time to figure out. In my early twenties when I got into a work conflict I thought I was alone with no one to help me do forensics on the conflict. But that’s not the truth. There is likely someone willing to help you deal with the conflict and repair relationships. Remember to take a breath and don’t deal with the situation angry. Walk away and seek out your trusted advisors at work. Tell them what happened, both your side and the ways you were wrong in the situation. Be humble and own any blame you have in the conflict. Because you are not always 100% in the right in any of these situations and you’ll be more likely to get the best possible advice if you’re 100% honest (plus, on the other side of the conflict is another human and they, like you, make mistakes). Lean on your trusted advisors as you attempt to work out the conflict.
The 3 ways to deal with conflict at work discussed in this article are not the only ways to deal with conflict, obviously. The main thing to remember from this article is to take control of your emotions during work conflict. Walk away and breathe rather than let your anger speak for you. Lean into your solid relationships and ask them to be a sounding board. Stay calm and learn to love everyone you meet. Take it from me, I didn’t early on and it hurt me, and I’ve burned bridges. Don’t make the same mistakes! Use these 3 ways to help you resolve your work conflict.
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