As much as we may wish to avoid it, there will be certain times when we will be unable to avoid confrontation, particularly in the workplace.
Whether it involves an employee who is not performing up to standard, another DC in your group wanting to make changes to the practice with which you disagree or an insurance company refusing to pay out on claims in a timely fashion, workplace confrontations are inevitable.
For years, the standard workplace management philosophy was that any confrontation was bad, as it would inevitably lower morale among workers and could lead to a hostile working environment.
Now, however, it is becoming more common to actually address workplace conflicts head on to prevent them from becoming more serious issues that could escalate to a breakup of a practice partnership or a lawsuit by an employee who feels that they were wrongfully terminated.
How can you engage in confrontation in a productive way, both for you and the other person? Read more for some ways to make confrontation in the workplace healthy, rather than harmful.
Mentally prepare yourself
It is only human nature to want to avoid confrontation. Nevertheless, you know that the conversation must take place in order to the situation to improve. This is why you will need to first mentally prepare yourself before you even speak to the other person. Consider the conflict in terms of the actual issue at hand, rather than the emotions surrounding it.
Narrow down what you want to say in terms of a few fact-based sentences, with as much detail as possible. Finally, take a few moments before you approach the other person to center yourself, so that you are calm and able to think clearly.
While it can be difficult to remember to respect the person with whom you are having the conflict, particularly if the issue has been longstanding, it is important to remember that any conflict, as well as its resolution, takes at least two people. The other person will have their own opinions, agendas, and potential solutions to the conflict, just as do you.
This means that you should show them the same respect as you wish for them to show you.
For example, don’t just start heatedly discussing the issue without warning or at a time or place where the other person would immediately be put on the defensive. Instead, ask to talk privately at a time and place of mutual convenience. Furthermore, if you and the other person are angry or upset with each other, wait until you have both had time to cool down and discuss the matter in a calm, rational manner.
Aim for resolution, not winning
It can be all too easy to want to win a conflict. If you approach it from that standpoint, the other person must therefore lose. Unfortunately, what usually happens is that both you and the other person end up losing because neither of you will actually get what really is important – a solution to the issue that is the root cause of the conflict. Instead, there will only be continued animosity and hurt feelings.
Try looking at settling the conflict not from the standpoint of winning, but instead from working with the other person to find a resolution that will be acceptable to both of you. Neither of you will necessarily get everything that you wish out of the resolution, but at the end of it, you both will have a workable solution that was the product of working together, rather than in opposition.
Ultimately, this ability to work through a workplace conflict together is the best possible solution. It may seem impossible at first, but believing that it is possible to find a mutually satisfactory agreement to the conflict is often the first step to actually making it happen.