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How To Professionally Deal With Conflicts in the Office

Think you’re being discriminated? Harassed? Bullied? Think again.

According to Kathleen Kelley Reardon, a management professor at the University of Southern California, “Individuals are 75 percent responsible for the way they are treated. By this she means that if you send signals of professionalism, courtesy and generosity, most people you deal with will treat you with the same high regard”.

So aside from taking responsibility for your mistakes and bad actions, to prevent conflict or a confrontation, you have to learn how to deal with combat and issues in the workplace. The office may seem like a battleground but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to fight, or even react in a way that would escalate the situation.

In order to defuse potentially combative situations, try to understand the circumstances, whether the insult is intentional or accidental. To better handle unintentional insults, politely ask to clarify the other person’s meaning. However, once its intentional harassment, a comeback is necessary but be careful not to be too defensive as it would make you look weak.

Using a question as a comeback in confrontations is advisable. If you ask for an explanation on why the confronter is acting that way (and politely), it would give that person time to reflect as well as give you more information on how you can react appropriately.

Also, another tip is to “reframe” the conversation to avoid intensifying it. For example, if you were told that you work too slow, you can try saying, “Its because I’m thorough.”

But not all conflicts can be mitigated even if you use a clever tactic. Thus, you must learn to respond in kind. Keep your comeback brief, clear, and direct – it is important that your tone of voice is controlled and authoritative. For example, if someone is offensive, you can try saying, “Lucky for you, I’m too nice.”

Knowing how to handle confrontation in the office is as important as networking and technical skills. You have to learn how to protect yourself and at the same time, keep the conflict from escalating. Further, if you’re mature and controlled enough to know how to handle conflict or upsetting situations in the office properly, this can benefit your team. Mishandling confrontations or conflicts can divide the office, especially if both your comments and your actions are misplaced and you overreacted.

Posted in Employee Rights, Work Advice.

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2 Responses

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  1. weary99 says

    Sometimes a lot of verbal maneuvering and planning is used to hide or reduce the visibility and obviousness of a direct threat. Read the information provided by the Psychological Harassment Information Association. In my case, I suffered a breakdown, had my reputation in the field destroyed and have been existing on soc. sec. disability ever since. I was the only woman working there and the owner of the company created tension by telling the men that my work was good and ‘look how hard she works’ , etc. I heard one of them say ‘she’s making us look bad’. I tried my best to mind my own business and just get my work done. I would walk into the office and say ‘good morning’ and not one person would answer. I decided to give up making any friends and stay out of their way but they wanted me out. The owner knew what was going on and when I got sick I was fired. He had no control over the office. I no longer had the right to work. The head hunters who used to call with job offers 3 to 4 times a month would no longer take my calls. My family and friends thought I was making all this up and all relationships prior to this have been destroyed. I had always had success in my previous jobs. As a consultant it’s important to do good work and get along.

  2. Kelsey Rogers says

    Being in a workplace which is free from any conflicts or negative issues will enable you to produce good work results. You should know how to properly interact with your co-employees so that they will treat you with respect.



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