Not every fight is a good fight. Know when to press a point and when it's time to let go.
Conflict in the workplace is a normal part of work life- says many qualified papers. Fighting for limited company resources, fighting over decisions made and actions taken, or fighting for personal and company goals, makes for a challenging work environment.
Sandwiched in all this conflict are employees trying to maneuver the workplace minefields and advance their careers. Should they argue with their boss if they disagree with his assessment of a situation? Should they assert their point of view when asked?
Understanding how to handle workplace conflict can be beneficial to career success.
Determine the Seriousness of the Disagreement
Arguments are bound to happen. When people work side-by-side eight plus hours a day, the workplace becomes a natural extension of family life. And all families have disagreements.
While there is nothing wrong with coworkers having an invigorating discussion about a topic of importance, it should not affect customers and customer service or come to blows. According to Sun Tzu in The Art of War it is knowledge, not force or strength, that is the basis for future success.
Before an employee argues his point until he is blue in the face, he needs to be comfortable in his knowledge of his topic in order to clearly and succinctly state his case. In addition, it is important to consider the width of the gap of disagreement. Often people argue only for small points. Instead, try looking for commonalities in the hope of finding common ground. Be willing to compromise.
Avoid a Conflict When it is Not Necessary
Fighting just to fight or to be right is not the way to go. If there is no danger or if there is nothing to gain, it makes no sense to fight. While many experts would say that conflict is a beneficial and necessary part of the work environment because it promotes change, some conflict just emanates from the day-to-day strife of being human.
Before taking on a battle it is important to determine if the conflict comes from a petty, personal annoyance or if it is based on a larger personal value or belief. Be sure there is reasoning, not just emotion in the argument.
Those who find themselves at the center of a workplace conflict need to ask if it is a battle they are likely to win and if in so doing will it advance their career. Fighting for an idea, a “seat at the table,” or a promotion, may all be worthy causes, but at what cost? Knowing when to let go is part of the battle.
Choose Battles Wisely
No one wants to be known as being disagreeable or difficult to get along with.
Employees who want to advance their careers understand the importance of team work and by extension the ability to get along well with others. They know they cannot do their job without input from coworkers. That’s why it is important for employees to fight for those things that are truly important and let the small stuff slide.
On the other hand, employees do not want to give in just because it is easy or they will be seen as weak and spineless. There is some level of expectation that coworkers are going to fight with and for each other, like when a supervisor has a subordinate’s back. Failing to assert a point of view or stand up for a team mate may cause a rift in the relationship. It may also send the wrong message to management.
Though conflict is normal, disagreements should always be handled in a professional manner. How an employee deals with conflict is the true test of her ability to lead others. For anyone who wants to advance her career, it is important to pick the right workplace battles.