Workplace Conflict – The Mistakes You are Making at Work

Katie Hendricks says workplace issues are almost always about relationships. “There’s some sort of issue keeping people from collaborating or meeting a deadline or making a product. Backstabbing co-workers, meddling supervisors, impossible-to-please executives and down-in-the-dumps naysayers are more than just workplace nuisances, they hinder the whole organization.

Five common mistakes occur in workplace relations.

1. Forming alliances. Of course a huge part of politics is about forming alliances to be able to pass through the bills that you care about. But there can be good alliances and bad alliances. Alliances that help you and your colleagues meet your goals and work together to support one another and the company’s mission are a great thing.

2. Lying and deceit. It’s no surprise that politicians are adept at lying and deceit. They are literally trained to tell people what they want to hear, in order to get their own agendas met. Unfortunately the downside to this is they have very little respect or trust on the whole. Using this strategy in the workplace as a way to deal with conflict is a losing strategy for all involved. Deceit erodes any good will and trust between work colleagues. Your work mates will view you with distrust and be unlikely to trust you with important information in the future.

3. Stonewalling and withdrawal. Stonewalling commonly used to refer to the process of someone completely ignoring and shutting down communication with another person is often employed by politicians as a way to wear down their political opponent. The problem with stonewalling is that it’s one of the most destructive relationship styles you can employ with another person.

Essentially the message you’re sending is you’re not even worth talking to, and that’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow.

In the workplace, stonewalling and withdrawal are employed as a way to deal with the anxieties related to the lack of resolution of a conflict. The only problem is you still have the discomfort of having to face your work colleague day in, day out.

4. Deflecting communication. The problem with this communication style is it doesn’t engender a sense of trust in the person, because you’re constantly feeling like they are avoiding the issue at hand, or trying to spin the discussion to benefit their own interests.

In the workplace, this is also an unproductive communication style that gets in the way of individuals and teams resolving problems and disagreements. It often leads to high levels of frustration amongst staff and lowers productivity.

5. Revenge and retribution. While revenge and retribution may feel sweet in the short term, it truly can be a poisoned chalice. Likewise, when revenge and retribution show up in the workplace, it can be incredibly destructive to those that engage in these behaviors.

Revenge not only destroys the person it’s intended for, but has a ripple effect where other work colleagues will lose their trust and sense of safety with you. Your relationships are compromised and the hate you internalize for the other person or people begins to eat you up. Essentially you not only destroy your enemy, but you also start to destroy yourself.

Evaluate where you are. The best way to begin building authentic relationships is to map out your current relationships. This involves sitting down with a piece of paper and creating a map of each person you have a relationship with at work.

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