Q

How to deal with workplace conflict

Personalities often clash when several people work together. When facing an issue, learn to appreciate team members for their contributions, not how they express themselves.

How do you deal with strong personalities and avoid the infighting that can sometimes occur in the workplace?

Everyone has been on a team with people of very different personalities. You might get along with the majority of your coworkers quite well and work effectively with them. A few other IT professionals might rub you the wrong way, though. That could cause you to have a poor working relationship with them. Ultimately, it affects your job satisfaction and your professional and team performance.

The most important thing you can do is set aside your emotions in your professional interactions. People tend to react to others on a visceral level. But biases lead you to discounting any good ideas or work from the person you don't get along with. It is human nature to like the people you share a good part of the day with, but it's not essential to doing a good job. Removing the need to personally like those around you helps you work more professionally and effectively.

Biases lead you to discounting any good ideas or work from the person you don't get along with.

In removing your emotions from the equation, you are able to consider people based on their ideas and abilities, rather than how they express them or how you react to them. You might find that they are bright and capable people but don't express their ideas well, or they do so in a way that annoys or upsets you. Most likely this person does not do it on purpose, and it's wrong to take it personally.

This is not easy to do. It involves blocking your own personal likes and dislikes. It requires considering ideas and work based strictly on getting the job done. No one has to like everyone they work with. But at the end of the day, we all have a job to do. If your colleagues with strong personalities contribute to that goal, you may actually come to respect them.

This was first published in July 2014

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