Workplace Etiquette: Five Ways to Trim Your Conflicts at Work
by Randall Mah
The office is one of the few places you may interact closely with the same people on an almost daily basis for years, yet it can be a challenge fostering a comfortable, trusting environment with your colleagues. Competing ambitions, clashing personalities and office politics can make workplace conflict the norm. While you may still want to consult a business etiquette coach for more in-depth help, you can minimize conflict at work with a little introspection and consideration.
Tension can develop because people don’t feel comfortable or are discouraged from expressing their thoughts and concerns. Keeping the channels of communication open can help foster sincere conflict resolution and good etiquette. Managers can encourage a more open environment by keeping their doors open and also leaving their offices to talk to their subordinates.
Be a Good Listener
Listening to your colleagues’ thoughts and concerns and not simply dismissing or ignoring them will allow you to collaborate more effectively, resolve disagreements with greater ease and build mutual respect.
Communicate With Care
Equally important is communicating with tact and etiquette. If a conflict arises, express disagreement in a nonconfrontational manner. One effective way to do that is to avoid accusatory language, which often involves the word “you.” Language like, “You aren’t working as hard as I am” or “The quality of your work is lousy” puts the other person in a defensive mode that can escalate conflict. Language that is indirect and avoids blame gives the other person a chance to address your concerns. For example, the following is more likely to elicit a positive response: “I’m concerned about meeting our deadline and I think we should boost our productivity. Do you have any suggestions?”
Picking Your Battles
Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid conflict, but when you have a chance, walk away. As in any relationship, you’ll have to decide when it’s worth escalating the situation and possibly causing further tension.
Mind Your Own Business
In an office, everybody has his or her own quirks and ways of working. If you let these differences bother you, conflict is more likely to arise. So unless your colleague’s instant messaging, online gaming, poor workplace etiquette or early departures are affecting your productivity or that of the company, mind your own business and manners. If you’re not the boss, it’s not your responsibility to judge if this is proper etiquette and appropriate behavior.
An etiquette expert skilled in business etiquette training for corporations can help you work through any specific issues you may have, however these basic steps can lay the groundwork for a harmonious workplace. They will not only boost productivity and morale, but also make going to work a much more pleasant experience.