Coping With Workplace Conflict

Coping With Workplace Conflict

From the archives: SAMMPress 2014 – written by Amber Tratter

When I was younger, I was under the impression that only children had fights. The adults I was surrounded with during my childhood seemed so, well, grown up. It wasn’t until much later that I realised how wrong I had been. Conflict exists everywhere; it’s a part of life. But it is especially prominent in the workplace where individuals are placed under extreme pressure and stress. The good news is that not all workplace conflicts are a bad thing. People need to be aware of varying perspectives and opinions so that problems can be looked at from all angles.

But what do you do when your co-workers get out of hand? You can’t keep feeding her Bonsai orange juice every time she belittles you in front of the boss. At least, you’re pretty sure you shouldn’t….

In my opinion, the first step to take when dealing with a discrepancy should be to approach the offender face-to-face. Taking it to computer and information technologies like email and intranet messaging can be a really bad idea. I’m sure a lot of us have already experienced how easily messages can be misinterpreted when emotion, tone and inflection is absent. Yeah, it’s not pretty. So rather than guessing what they mean when they say “ I’ll get back to you shortly”, find out for certain! Have a conversation with them to understand where the animosity is coming from and see how easily it can been resolved. If you don’t think that you would be able to handle such a direct approach, talk to Human Resources about the issue first.

There is the misconception that students or recent graduates working in organisations don’t have the power or right to seek help.

If the disagreement cannot be solved after your meeting, it is a good idea to seek outside help from either a boss or Human Resources. The worst thing you can do is shrug off the unresolved dispute and let it fester over the weekend. It is better to aim for a fast resolution so that no work projects or personal relationships are negatively affected.

Lastly, there is the misconception that students or recent graduates working in organisations don’t have the power or right to seek help. There is never a time that a person can take credit for your work or take advantage of you. There are laws put in place to protect the rights of workers so ensure that you read your contract carefully before signing and never be afraid to speak out and seek a second opinion. You shouldn’t have to keep spending your weekly wages on orange juice.

Amber Tratter is a graduate from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce (Management/Marketing) and a Diploma in Languages (Indonesian). During her time at university she has contributed to the Students’ Association of Management and Marketing (SAMM) by working as the Director of Partnerships before she took over as President in 2012-2013. Her time now is shared between volunteering for local fundraisers, tutoring Indonesian, reading every book under the sun and working towards becoming a professional novelist.

Image credit: Simon de Bakker

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