Problems can arise in a modern-day workplace for a number of reasons. Lack of clarity, disrespect and not putting in one’s fair share of effort are all common triggers for complaints, disputes and deep-seated grudges. Suffice it to say, no one relishes having to contend with these problems. In addition to creating animus between workers, they can decrease productivity and employee happiness. While certain issues in the workplace are unforeseen, many of them can be avoided by being proactive and taking preventative measures. In the quest for a conflict-free workplace, the following pointers are sure to serve you well.
Pull Your Weight
Team members refusing to do their fair share of work is among the leading causes of wicked problems in the workplace. Virtually every place of business has at least one employee who doesn’t pull their weight, thereby drawing the ire of their coworkers. In some instances, these individuals aren’t actively trying to avoid work; they’re simply unaware that more is expected of them. Other times, however, they are very cognizant of their laziness, sometimes even wearing it as a badge of honor. To counterbalance their sloth, their coworkers oftentimes have to expend additional effort and increase their respective workloads.
In short, you don’t want to be this person. Not pulling your weight will quickly turn your coworkers against you, and their frustration will largely be justified. Doing your fair share is particularly important when working on group projects. Even if you don’t view yourself as an expert on the material, there are other ways you can contribute – like doing leg work, making food runs, picking up coffee, etc.
Don’t Speak Ill of Others
Gossip is an unavoidable aspect of human society. People speak ill of others for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, this is done with genuine malice, while other times, pure boredom is the culprit. From our childhood years to our adult ones, gossip is something that many of us encounter on a near-daily basis. However, this isn’t to say that it’s right. Workplace gossip can hurt feelings, alienate people and destroy reputations.
Since you wouldn’t want to be the subject of gossip, there’s no reason for you to engage in it. Even if you’re presented with an exceptionally juicy piece of info, it’s in your best interest to avoid spreading it. If a piece of gossip you’ve helped propagate finds its way back to its subject(s), you could be looking at serious consequences from HR.
Be Respectful in Your Communications
Communicating respectfully is crucial to avoiding conflict in the workplace. As is the case with conflict in other areas of life, issues in the workplace often arrive when people feel disrespected. Of course, perceived disrespect isn’t always intended disrespect, and what constitutes disrespect in some people’s eyes constitutes normal communication in the eyes of others.
With this in mind, make a point of being objectively respectful when dealing with your coworkers and superiors. Always say “please” and “thank you,” and avoid interrupting your colleagues when they’re speaking. Furthermore, take care to apologize whenever your actions have inconvenienced someone. As you’ll find, exhibiting basic manners can go a long way in earning you the respect of your peers.
Report Misconduct to the Proper Authorities
Misconduct is rampant in many workplaces. Sexual harassment, bullying and verbal abuse are problems that far too many of us deal with on a daily basis. Whenever you encounter any of these issues, it’s recommended that you report them to the proper authorities instead of directly confronting the perpetrator, as this can ultimately make things worse for both you and other victims. This isn’t to say that reaching out to HR always has the intended effect, but it’s a smart first step. Should HR fail to act, talking to a lawyer should be your next move.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a workplace that’s completely devoid of conflict. No matter how idyllic a place of business seems, there are bound to be arguments and personal grudges behind the scenes. However, while it may be impossible to stamp out workplace disputes entirely, there are numerous steps you can take to minimize them. You can’t control your coworkers, but you can certainly take measures to ensure that you don’t get caught up in office drama.