Where many different types meet in an office, there is often high performance pressure and different opinions are commonplace, but it also means regularly there will be clashes. Disputes and conflicts in the office are something quite natural and difficult to avoid. Nevertheless, disagreements should never simply be ignored. Here you will learn how to eliminate conflicts in the workplace and get back to common ground with your colleagues. This is how to disagree properly with office coworkers.
Proper arguing needs to be learned
Even if only the very few really like to argue, this is an interpersonal interaction that each of us has to deal with from time to time.
The bad news is that each conflict is different and builds on sometimes extremely complex prehistory. It is therefore extremely difficult to create a “plan” that can be used for general problem solving.
The good news is that you can still learn “proper arguing” and thus contribute to an improved culture of contention in the workplace. In this context, it is first and foremost important to avoid conflicts among colleagues, but to address them openly. How exactly this works, we will tell you later in the article.
Always pay attention to non-verbal cues
Another essential aspect for a healthy culture of argument in the office: communication – and that is constructive, factual and unambiguous.
Often, it is not the things we say that are the trigger for controversy among colleagues, but those that we do not say. Non-verbal utterances – for example, annoyed groans, twisted eyes, or a clearly dismissive posture – can also be the proverbial gasoline that further nourishes the conflict fire.
If there are conflicts with a colleague, you should always pay attention to these points when communicating:
- Avoid generalizing statements, but always refer to concrete facts
- Don’t be offensive in your choice of words under any circumstances
- Do not listen to tricks and do not go into them
- Express yourself clearly and unequivocally , i.e. without ambiguous allusions
- Always criticize constructively
- Formulate “I-messages” (for example, “I felt like I was being ignored because…”) to clarify your point of view and not to harass your counterpart
- Ask to understand the other party’s position
Avoiding confrontation is not a solution
Although conflicts among colleagues are in most cases unpleasant and harm the working climate, they must not be silenced in any case.
If you hope that a dispute in the office will come from the world on its own, this tactic usually wastes a lot of time and energy. Even if a disagreement is ignored by all parties involved, the conflict usually continues to simmer unnoticed. Then it is only a matter of time before the fire breaks out again.
Disagree properly with office coworkers: 5-step plan
Better: Address the problem openly. Our “5-step plan” for conflicts among colleagues will help you.
Step #1: Identify the conflict as such
When does a small disagreement end and where does a serious conflict in the workplace begin?
Of course, not every small dispute is a serious dispute among colleagues. But don’t make the mistake of categorically trivialising any form of conflict.
A healthy culture of argument in the office is also based on the fact that conflicts can be identified and recognized as such.
Step #2: Address the Conflict
The next step is to invite all people involved in the conflict (not always two) to a conversation.
It is important to pay attention to these aspects:
- Select a neutral location for the call (for example, the meeting room)
- Pay attention to a relaxed atmosphere (none of the participants should be under deadline pressure, for example)
- Signal a willingness to cooperate right from the start
Step #3: Describe perspectives
Once all the parties to the dispute have come together, it is important to take a one’s own position and to describe the view of the conflict. Again, there are a few things to keep in mind to learn to disagree properly with office coworkers:
- Always let your interlocutor talk
- Listen carefully
- Avoid discussions
- Ask if you don’t understand something
- Hold back with interpretations of the view
Step #4: Work out differences
Now we come to a crucial point in the management of conflicts among colleagues: the development of differences.
Once each party has communicated his or her point of view, the next step is to identify all aspects that have contributed to the disagreement or dispute.
Quietly take notes and pen to the hand to record each point. In this way, on the one hand, you avoid forgetting something and can visualize the conflict on the other.
Step #5: Find solutions
Even if it is time-consuming, in order to completely resolve a conflict, you and your colleagues must address each point of contention individually and find a solution together. This must be
- acceptable to all stakeholders
Only when all differences have been resolved in this way and all parties feel comfortable with the decisions, the conflict is officially resolved.
You cannot get out of the way of disputes among colleagues. Wherever different people meet and interact with each other, disagreements and conflicts are pre-programmed.
This is not a bad thing in itself – if everyone involved has internalized how to “fight properly” and never raise a conflict in the workplace to a personal level.