Are clashes at work stressing you out? The solution can be as simple as sitting down and talking.
Most jobs present enough challenges and pressures; no one enjoys having to deal with workplace conflict in addition to it all. Two experienced leaders in very different industries offer their insights on the importance of simply talking — before and after problems arise.
“Poor communication is, in my opinion, the only cause of workplace conflict,” says Jonathan Butcher, Manager of Centralized Workforce Management at CGI, an outsourcing, systems integration and consulting firm. “It creates misperceptions, hard or hurt feelings, and suspicion. It also breaks down efficiency, results in reactive instead of proactive measures, contributes to poor performance, and causes general dissatisfaction.” Reacting negatively can be as simple as snapping at colleagues or as dramatic as resigning, but whatever the case, both the company and individuals involved lose out – and all because of miscommunication.
One of the best ways to keep communication lines open is to keep cool under pressure. As furious as she may feel when a big problem comes up, Tenny Nigoghossian, Executive Director of Advancement at The Canadian Stage Company, tries not to react right away or make a bigger deal of a situation than necessary.
“I investigate what happened first. I don’t let things slide, but I do think long-term and consider my relationship with my co-worker. I’d want someone to be merciful to me if I mess up next.” Once you’ve put the conflict into perspective and taken a few deep breaths, you can talk it out.
Centre for Conflict Resolution
Vancouver Island University