Whether you’re the CEO or a cubicle dweller, chances are you’ve had a conflict at work. But while some good-natured debate can be a good thing, sometimes these conflicts get overheated REAL fast. Whether you’re in management or not, you’re going to need to know what to do when conflict arises. Add to that the fact that you might be called upon to work with the person with who you’ve conflicted. Suddenly knowing how to keep your cool during work conflicts becomes one of those important ‘must-have’ skills if you expect to succeed in your job.
How do you do that?
1. Know when to walk away. Leaving is something of an art. The last thing you want is for the other person to think you're not listening to what they have to say. But every argument reaches that point where no one is saying anything new. It’s about here that things start to get personal, and indeed uncomfortable. That is the point to take a break. But even this takes skill. Excuse yourself quietly. It's not the time for the dramatic exit.
2. Calm down. Clearing your head will help you to be both calmer and more rational. Once you’ve removed yourself from the situation, then take a few minutes for yourself. Breathe deeply. Practice mindfulness or even meditation until you’re in a better place and able to be in control of yourself. Find that inner peace.
3. Get busy. For some people, being emotionally wrought leads toward a need for activity. If you’re one of these people, then use this energy to get some work done. Studies have shown that people can be very productive when they’ve been worked up. Also, consider that by channeling all that emotional energy into work you’ll find that you’re able to be very focused and even more productive than usual.
4. Practice empathy. It’s not always easy to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, but it does help. Realize that there might be something more going on with the other person than there appears to be on the surface. That will not only help you to calm down, but also might show you a possible solution, or at least a new way to address the other person in a way that’s respectful and more compassionate. Keep in mind that your insights might well show you that the problem is with you. In that case, it might be time to call HR into the situation or at the least to sit down with a mediator to help resolve the matter.
5. Reconcile. Try apologizing. Recognize that it does take two people to get into an argument. Apologizing acknowledges the part that you’ve played in the situation and invites the other person to do the same. In the end, the best way to cool a situation is to resolve it.
Having a conflict may be inevitable. How you deal with conflict says a great deal about you as a person and a great deal about you as a co-worker. Being able to keep your cool in trying situations is an invaluable skill and one well worth cultivating, especially in the work world.