At some point or another, everyone will encounter the bad side of a sly or confrontational colleague. Confrontational individuals can be very boisterous and emotional. These type of people will direct any difficulties that they are having onto others and oddly their issues will become a shared responsibility of the group and their emotions will be intended for you and multiple others when angered or simply overwhelmed, causing some friction with one or more associates. For those colleagues that avoid the route of confrontation take a much safer path such as complaining directly to your boss. By interacting directly with the person or people of power much harm can be done to tarnish any positive reputation that had been established with your boss and if the sly person is also credible then the damage may be too severe to revolve. In many establishments and offices, it has become natural to cover your bases and assure that no one can blame you for incomplete tasks or damage the reputation that you are building.
- Refrain from Repartee.
Any exchange of words between colleagues over a far less than satisfying situation can lead to a volatile situation. As a young professional or entry level team member, keep in mind that your boss is still learning about your skills and personality. Entering into a screaming match with a colleague regardless of their standing in the organization or the issue at hand will reflect upon the manner in which you conduct yourself. The most appropriate technique for handling this occurrence is to allow the other person to express themselves and for your responses to be simple, clear, and far from aggressive and witty.
- Record Everything!
After an altercation or explosive disagreement with either a co-worker or customer it is important that you make your employer aware of the situation even if the situation was resolved or classified as minor. The reason being, many small irrelevant issues will transform into huge problems or may be documented to your boss via the other party involved. This step can be attributed to the ability to cover your bases as keeping your boss informed through email and other forms of written communication will serve as a better protection from the perception and comments of customers or colleagues leading to an environment where you will feel safe and encouraged. In addition, this is also the part where your faults in the situations should be admitted to your boss and apology given to the colleague and customer under the instruction of your manager.
- Witnesses are your best friend(s)
Informing your boss of the incident is significant, but having a witness makes for a better case. Having another person to either assist in the evaluation of the incident or add their viewpoint can exhibit the inappropriate actions of the other party, but may also point the faults in your actions too. These mistakes will not matter if you have admitted to these faults when you first told your boss of the incident. Moreover, the viewpoint of the third person, an observer, is better than only having the perception of those involved in the disagreement.
- Deflection is the best protection.
The next time that the customer or colleague and you cross paths, they may attempt to engage you in conversation. Sometimes this will be an apology, but it could possibly be the start to a second incident where the person wants to ignite the same argument and the positive approach is to deflect the topic by focusing on developing a feasible solution to the issue that started the incident. Regardless if everyone is able to agree upon a solution or a colleague attempts to start another argument it is important that the entire discussion has been communicated to your manager. This will exhibit consistency and keep them informed of the things that are happening that may affect production.
- Your Boss is NOT an enemy.
Many times, employees see the boss as an enemy as they have not developed a relationship with their boss and immediately worry about incidents that could lead to their unemployment. Being honest and upfront will be an encouraging reason for your boss to analyze and consider your perspective fairly in any altercation that occurs. There are employees that end up in their boss’s office as they fail to communicate issues that arise and never expect their boss to hear about the situation until they are unfortunately in the presence of their boss and are either reprimanded or fired for their behaviors. Like any relationship, continue to grow and cultivate this relationship for future professional references and promotions. It is imperative to have interactions with your supervisor that go beyond arguments between colleagues and toward healthy and stimulating rapport.
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