Tag Archives: workplace relationships

Diffusing Tension in the Workplace

Resolve conflict and bring peace to the work world

The workplace is complicated. It doesn’t matter if you work on an assembly line, type away at a cubicle, make cold calls in a call center, or take customer orders at a dinner table; you always deal with other people.

We’re all human and we have bad days. And sometimes you might do something inadvertently to make someone’s day worse. It could be a miscommunication via email, perhaps you chew loudly, or maybe there’s a scheduling conflict you just can’t agree on. These little things add up and suddenly there’s tension between the two of you.

Getting rid of that tension is one of the most important workplace soft skills. An employee who can effectively resolve conflict is priceless. So, how is this accomplished?

There are five main styles for managing conflict, according to Thomas, Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann originators of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. The key is to figure out the right mix of styles for any given situation, and recognize your coworker’s preferred conflict management style.

Here are those given conflict management styles, as outlined by SourcesOfInsight.com.

  1. Accommodating

Think of this as killing your enemy with kindness.

Basically, if accommodating is your style of choice, your tendency is to give into the other person’s desires without making sure you get what you want. Maybe you think your boss’ idea is less than great, but don’t tell them because that would make waves.

Although it might sound cowardly on paper, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the accommodating style. All styles are valid. For example, it’s usually better to defer to those with more experience when you’re new to the job.

  1. Avoiding 

With this style, you avoid conflict at all costs. You never win arguments and prefer to stay out of the combat zone entirely. You don’t want to say no so you end up saying nothing. Think of this as the “let well enough alone” mentality.

Avoidance is a great for when emotions are running high and you need time to think, when you know you can’t win, or just don’t feel like the situation is worth the effort. Why engage when there will be minimal gains?

  1. Collaborating

Think of this as the “win-win” scenario. You want to work with your coworker in order to achieve common ground and for everyone to get what they want.

This is a great conflict resolution style when everyone is already on the same page. You trust each other, value teamwork,  say what you mean, and don’t have to worry about hurt feelings. It’s not a great choice when emotions are running high or people’s viewpoints are diametrically opposed.

  1. Competing

This is the “might makes right” mentality. You want to get what you want no matter what, and the opposing side’s wishes aren’t important.

Again, this sounds like the angry boss who intimidates his direct reports into getting something done. In that case, it’s not the best decision. But if you’re an accountant on a deadline and someone on another team is trying to tell you how to do your job, competing is a perfect response. You know your job better than someone in a different department, and don’t have time to worry about hurt feelings.

  1. Compromising

Think of this as standard negotiating procedure. The “give and take” approach. You and your coworker both work toward a solution by giving things up until common ground is reached.

The main problem with this one is that it takes time and isn’t affective when someone is unwilling to give anything up. That means it’s best used when you need a temporary solution or when both sides have important goals. However, beware: compromising can frequently be the result when collaborating is the better choice because it’s easier to get done. But if everyone can get what they want with a bit of hard work, why not go that route?

If you’re partial to any of these conflict resolution tactics, ask yourself if you’re trying the same solution in every situation and not getting the results you need. If you are, you might want to explore other methods to get rid of the problem.

Have you ever had to solve a workplace dispute? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

Is Your Relationship with Your Boss on the Rocks?

Group projects don’t end after high school. As adults, we call it work. Karen grew up, and now she’s a department manager.  Like Jerry, some coworkers are undependable. And like Karen, some managers are less than great. It gets even harder to perform well when you suspect your manager might have it out for you.

But how can you really know whether your manager has a problem with you?

They Micromanage You

Maybe it’s constantly checking in on you or scheduling private meetings every day. They don’t seem to believe you when you say you have a deadline covered. Whatever it is, they’re not doing it to anybody else on the team. And that’s a problem.

You’ll probably never really know the reason. Maybe you made a bad impression on your first day, or the last person to hold the position was a friend of your boss. It could even be something in your background or social history.

How do you fix that? By doing a self-analysis. Look at your accomplishments and behavior. Check your career development plan. Are you doing anything offensive or untoward? Did your boss previously approach you about a performance problem you still haven’t dealt with?

If you can’t find anything, politely approach your boss about it. Ask them if there’s anything you’re doing wrong. Note specifically how you are being treated differently.

They’re Short with You

If your boss doesn’t make any effort to engage with you, something is wrong. You try to ask for their assistance on a project and they only give yes or no answers.

For whatever reason, they don’t want to talk to you. Maybe they don’t find your work satisfactory or don’t see you as worth their time.

As soon as you can, engage in a conversation. Don’t let it fester. Ask them why it is they refuse to engage with you. It could be because they expect you to handle your responsibilities on your own, or it could be a personal issue. You won’t know unless you ask.

They Don’t Give You Credit for Your Work

If you’re doing your job well, you can expect to be given more responsibilities. That’s how you move up in your career. However, a boss that has less than friendly feelings for you might be tempted to take credit for your accomplishments.

Start to take note of your accomplishments; write down how you achieved or completed projects. Bring this information to your manager, and let them know that you are proud of your work and would like to be recognized for it. If they listen to you and you’re able to work with them, great!

However, if your boss refuses to listen to what you have to say, regardless of reason, you may need to go to their manager and let them know about the situation. If the situation still doesn’t improve, it may be time to start looking for a new job with a great boss. 

Have you ever had trouble with a bad boss? How did you handle the situation? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

7 Perks to Embracing a Positive Attitude

Perkstopositivity Enjoy your job, feel healthier, and improve your relationships. These goals aren’t out of reach. In fact, the power to achieve each one lies with you.

Your outlook on life impacts the way you see the world and how the world sees you. Revamp your attitude, and reap the rewards of greater personal and professional satisfaction.

Come on, get happy.
When you focus on what’s good in your life – instead of what’s missing – you’re more thankful and fulfilled. Need help looking on the bright side? Try spending more time with positive people, listening to upbeat music, and reading motivational books. Whenever it’s up to you, avoid situations and individuals who bring you down. Even small tweaks to your routine can lift your spirits. 

Beat stress.
When you commit to a positive outlook, the worries of the day don’t seem nearly as overwhelming. Focusing on the silver lining keeps daily nuisances like traffic jams and computer problems from ruining your day. If you start feeling frustrated, take a quick time out to close your eyes, count to 10, and take a few deep breaths.

Improve your health.
Stress wreaks havoc on your physical and mental well-being. A sunny disposition may not be the cure-all for every ailment, but studies consistently show that a positive attitude promotes better health. If you’re having a difficult time managing your stress, look for ways to get relief. Join a gym, take up a relaxing hobby, or find someone you can talk to about your tension. Make reducing stress and positive thinking a priority in your life, and you’ll see results.

Strengthen relationships.
Upbeat people are easier to get along with and more fun to be around. Strive to make your co-workers’ day brighter and your boss’ job easier. As an added bonus, your efforts will pay off with a more enjoyable workplace filled with happier colleagues. 

Boost your career.
As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.” Another way to say it is: positive people are more likely to get ahead in life. When you’re excited about showing up for work each day, you’ll inspire co-workers and impress your supervisor. Even if it feels insincere at first, resolve to smile, quit grumbling, and encourage others. Soon, you’ll find cheerfulness comes more naturally.

Increase your job satisfaction.
Every job has rough patches. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like, concentrate on what you do enjoy. You may not have the job you’ve always dreamed of, but with a change of perspective, you may find that your current position has a lot to offer. A brighter outlook will allow you to make the most of any situation and improve your overall contentment.

Experience a greater work-life balance.
When you’re constantly complaining about work, it detracts from your personal life. Venting every now and then is okay – just don’t make a habit of it. Try to keep your shop talk limited to topics such as your future goals, interesting projects, or light-hearted events of the day. 

While you can’t control everything in life, your outlook is one thing you do have power over. When you commit to seeing the glass half full, the world suddenly seems brighter. Not only will you experience less, stress and better health, you’ll also benefit from improved relationships and greater career satisfaction.

Earning a Promotion: 3 Things You Can Learn from Your Boss

Your boss was given the responsibility and the corner office for a reason, so if you’re looking for a promotion, look no further than them for guidance. Observing your boss and following their lead will give you a leg up when you’re ready to seek a promotion. Here are three things you can focus on and learn from, so start paying attention.

Management Style – Every leader has a different way of leading their team, including your boss. So, watch how your boss interacts with your co-workers, delegates projects, and recognizes accomplishments. Also, notice how your co-workers react to their behavior to learn what works and what doesn’t. You’ll realize that different personality types require different types of leadership styles. For example, your boss will most likely allow high performers to self manage more than new employees. Demonstrate this knowledge when you interview for a promotion by talking about specific management scenarios that you would use in each situation.

Professionalism – Observe your boss interacting with their peers, supervisor, and other company executives. Pay attention to how they handle situations – both good and bad. A world-class leader respects their co-workers and superiors and earns their respect in return. Also, take note of when your boss is praised for their work and what they did to earn that praise. By emulating their behaviors, treating others with respect, and acting and reacting professionally, you can build your leadership ability and presence within the company.

Wardrobe Choices – You might not consider how you dress to be important to your career, but it does matter when you want to get ahead at work. You don’t have to wear $1,000 suits to receive a promotion, but you do need to dress professionally. Observe what your boss wears to the office every day. Are you wearing something comparable? If not, you’re not helping your professional image. So, follow your boss’s lead and wear similar clothing styles. That doesn’t mean you have to copy their wardrobe shirt for shirt or shoe for shoe, but if your boss is wearing a suit every day and you’re wearing khakis and a polo shirt, it’s time to step it up a notch.

Earning a promotion takes more than just being well-versed in your subject area, industry, and company. Companies want to develop well-rounded individuals into leaders who can represent their company professionally. That’s why people who know how to manage others, act professionally, and dress the part have a great shot at moving up the career ladder. And, who better to learn from than the individuals your company already trusts and respects as leaders?

What have you learned from a manager that helped you develop your career? As a manager, what advice would you give others to help them move up the corporate ladder? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

Improving Workplace Relationships. 3 Ways to Enhance Your Listening Skills

From entry-level workers to managers to CEOs, all employees want to be appreciated and respected by the people they work with. Everyone wants to be heard, listened to, and understood. By being a good listener, you’re showing respect to others. So, here are a few tips to polish up your listening skills and help you improve your workplace relationships.

Acknowledge the Speaker. When you’re listening to someone, send them verbal and nonverbal cues to let them know you hear what they’re saying. You can acknowledge them with eye contact and head nods, and respond with an enthusiastic tone. Avoid crossing your arms – this makes it appear that you’re not interested in what they’re talking about or sends the signal that you’re on the offensive.

Fight Distractions. Work is a busy place, and usually, there’s something or someone fighting for your time and attention. But, avoid doing other tasks when someone is talking to you. Ignore people walking by, your e-mail inbox, and the phone so you don’t come across as ignoring the speaker when you’re distracted. Concentrate on the person talking and what they’re saying so you can fully understand what they’re talking about.

Don’t Interrupt. Most people have a habit of interrupting others when they’re talking because everyone wants to be heard and give their input; however, interrupting comes off as disrespectful toward the speaker. No matter how enthusiastic you are to respond, allow the speaker to finish their thought before you speak. Allow them to explain before you chime in to add to their ideas. Then, formulate your thought and respond to them. This will keep you from jumping to the wrong conclusion or coming across as rude.

Listening is a skill we begin learning at a young age, but it’s only mastered with lots of deliberate practice. So, use these listening techniques every day with every one you talk to, including people at work. Over time, you might just see your workplace relationships improve as your conversations take on a more respectful tone and others feel the respect they crave.

Healthy Ways to Blow off Steam at Work (Without Losing Control)

It’s one of those days, or maybe one of those weeks, months, or even years, when everything seems to be going wrong. Economic concerns and reports of job loss bombard the news and your thoughts; your workload literally towers above your head, threatening to topple and crush you under its weight. And to top it all off, your cube-mate makes Dwight Schrute seem the embodiment of normality.

The pressures of work and home can be overwhelming, but before you detonate from built-up stress, use these five tips for healthy ways to blow off steam at work.

Take a break. Release pent-up frustration by taking a break from the task at hand. Find a quiet place to unwind when you feel provoked or annoyed by a boss or co-worker, before you snap under the pressure. If the weather allows, spend a few minutes outside to enjoy the air, or take a short walk to help release tension.

Escape at lunch. Spend time away from the office during your lunch break instead of working through lunch or not even taking your much needed break. Take a drive, wander through a park or a local bookstore, or take a nap so that you can return to work with a renewed focus. Utilizing your lunch will help you feel refreshed and better prepared for the challenges of the day.

Clean your desk. Take time to organize your workspace. This is a productive way to physically alleviate aggravation and expend extra energy. Cleaning the area you work in will help you feel less overwhelmed and will leave you ready to tackle your next task.

Listen to music. Listen to music to take your mind off stressful situations and soothe your emotions when you’re upset. Music releases endorphins in your brain that can help you relax, so if your job or company allows you to use an mp3 player at work, release your frustrations to the beat of a song. But be sure to use headphones so you don’t add to your co-workers stress levels.

Laugh a little. Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” When you or a co-worker feel overwhelmed or stressed at work, use humor to lighten the mood. Play a team-building exercise or tell a joke or story to a co-worker who is feeling frustrated. Laughter in the workplace promotes creativity and understanding, strengthens relationships, and can be the “best medicine” when you’re feeling stressed.

Office outbursts often have a trickle-down effect that can impact your work relationships, company, and even your career, so before you get irritated at work, practice these tips to blow off steam without losing control.