Long before I joined the work environment, I often had to navigate complex relationships with colleagues and roommates at the university. There was at least one roommate every year that I could hardly get along with. It was either we were too different, or we rubbed each other the wrong way. Sometimes things would evolve into a heated exchange of sorts, but usually such arguments served as the turning point in the relationship, making us closer due to the new found mutual understanding. Till today, I am in contact with some of the people I fell out with, and this goes to show that there is no difficult relationship that is not reconcilable.
In a typical work environment, it is not uncommon to find people you naturally don’t agree with. Unfortunately, the work environment does not really give you the liberty to have full blown arguments that lead to a ‘better understanding’ of each other, unless of course, unemployment is calling your name. (hahaa)
In this post, I share a few tips to help you better manage strained or difficult work relationships with your colleagues.
Evaluate The Situation
Sometimes, it may just be a quirk you can handle. But occasionally, it is toxicity which you totally have to steer clear of. Just like it is with toxic friends and family, you need to know when your colleague is being toxic, and not simply being weird. Here’s a post we published earlier on recognizing toxic relationships:
As soon you are sure it is toxicity on their part, take appropriate action by asking for a transfer or reporting the colleague, or both!
Confront Issues At work Respectfully But Firmly
Hoping the conflict will go away doesn’t help at all. If defusing the situation in a non-confrontational manner doesn’t work, then don’t be afraid to face it head on. Just be sure to stand your ground without putting your colleague on the defensive.
Don’t Put Off The Evil Day
Deal with confrontations immediately. Don’t give room for prolonged stress and disrespect. You are more likely to get increasingly frustrated and angry, if you do. The offender will most likely get ‘weirder’ and/or bolder, increasing the risk of losing your temper.
Keep Your Cool
Whatever it takes, maintain your composure. Losing your temper, even when you are right, makes you come across as immature and lacking in self-control. Walk away if you must, but whatever you do, keep your cool.
Accept That It Might Be You
Sometimes we are stressed out trying to deal with other people’s quirks, forgetting that we have a few ourselves. When you’ve tried to resolve issues in a peaceful manner, be ready to deal with the possibility that you just might be the ‘weird’ colleague.
Where it is not a toxic situation, tolerance is your watchword. People’s differences can sometimes lead to friction in social interactions, but being different is not a bad thing. Teach yourself to accommodate others who are ‘weird’ to you, and learn how to make the best of differences.
We hope these tips help you convert potential enemies into workplace allies.