Difficult coworkers may be the number one cause of workplace conflict; these tips for negotiating conflict at work will help you smooth difficult relationships.
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The following tips will give you insight into your role in the workplace conflict you’re experiencing. If your problems at work seem unsurmountable, read The Complete Guide to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace — it’s a great resource for learning conflict resolutions skill. And, read on for six tips for working with difficult people and resolving conflict…
6 Tips for Negotiating Conflict at Work
“People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.” ~ Ogden Nash.
This may have been true back in Nash’s day…but today, there are plenty of people who work in cubicles and earn minimum wage! And, the “laborers” who once made minimum wage can now earn $30 or more an hour. But, whether you work sitting down or standing up, you will run into conflict.
1. Figure out what your career goals are
Some career goals are clear: you want a job promotion, a good relationship with your boss, or a raise. Other times, career goals are a little murkier: you want to improve your job performance, be a better boss, or improve your work environment – but you don’t know how. The first step in negotiating conflict at work is to figure out your specific goals. Next, you need to set small, achievable steps to achieving those goals.
2. Gain insight into your role in the workplace conflict
Sometimes our own personalities, insecurities, fears, and past experiences affect how we see our roles in the workplace conflict. For instance, a minor attitude adjustment can make a huge difference at work – and it’s not always other people’s attitudes that need to change! To negotiate successfully, you need to figure out what role you’re playing at work. It takes self-awareness, honesty, and insight to ‘fess up to, for instance, your own weak job performance or lack of integrity at work…but it will help you achieve your career goals in the long run.
3. Talk to the coworker who can make a difference
If, for instance, your workplace conflict involves dealing with a difficult coworker, then there’s no point in talking to the person who delivers the mail! To negotiate any type of conflict, you need to talk to the person who is directly involved.
4. Consider your coworker’s perspective
You’ll be more persuasive if you’re open to hearing other people’s perspectives. Communicating effectively at work involves putting yourself in your coworker’s shoes and remembering that “even a sheet of paper has two sides” (Japanese proverb). If your coworker is difficult or your boss seems unfair, for instance, find out why. Perhaps your coworker is ill or has problems at home, or your boss is managing issues that you know nothing about. Your coworkers’ perspective may not change your desire to deal with the workplace conflict, but it can change how you approach your coworker…which will help you achieve your career goals.
5. Be open to different options, and look for win-win situations
The more creative and willing you are to consider different ways to solve your problem, the higher your chances of successfully negotiating the conflict! For instance, if you want a raise, remember that there are work perks other than financial remuneration. For instance, you might negotiate shorter work days or increased 401(k) contributions.
Workplace conflicts work the same way: you can’t change the personality of a difficult coworker, but you could consider changing your hours or workspace so you deal with that coworker less often.
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6. Determine what you’re willing to live with at work
What if you can’t achieve your goals at work? Before you start negotiating conflict with the right people at work, you need to know what your bottom line is. Will you quit your job if you don’t get a promotion, or will you stay where you are for another year? Decide what you’re willing to live with before you start negotiating so you don’t make an impulse decision you’ll later regret.
Are you ready for a change? Read my tips on how to make a career change at 40.
If you have any thoughts on these tips for negotiating conflict at work, please comment below…