Defusing workplace conflict before it becomes a hostile environment:
- First and foremost, you must acknowledge that there is a conflict;
- Discuss and deal with the conflict head on, but only, discuss the present conflicting issue. Do not go back in history. Replaying history is not conducive to solving the present problem when you play the 'remember when' and the 'she always' game;
- It may helpful to get an impartial party involved. Sometimes you cannot see the answer to the problem, because you are too busy defending your own opinion. Ask for help, a trusted co-worker may have the solution you need.
- Ask yourself if the conflicting issue is important to you. Be honest, do you really care about the issue, or it is just the principle of the issue? If it's principle, "he does this all of the time"; "it's not fair". Let it go. If an issue has no real impact on you, step away from it.
- Hot-button issues and disagreements are not worth your time and effort. If you feel there is a real problem, talk to a supervisor, there may be rules and regulations already in place to address the issue. A good supervisor or office manager will address the conflicting issue in a meeting without divulging names. One way to deal with office problems is to cloak them in an “office progress” meeting--these are the things we have accomplished, let’s go over office protocol, etc.
- Resist being pulled into someone else's anger issue. Minor issues have a way of becoming a real problem if you and other's offer opinions when you have not been directly asked for one. Sometimes a person just needs to blow off steam. "Boy, that Mary never puts paper in the copier. She always walks away and leaves it empty." A statement like this does not require an answer, because the person saying it most likely filling the copier with paper, as she is speaking.
Where workplace conflict is concerned, be the voice of reason, and that may mean saying nothing.