Today, we cover unfair coworkers. (Unfair bosses (click here) are covered later.)
It’s another hard fact of life: you might not get along with everyone in your immediate workspace. Since most of us have to deal with people eventually, there’s no getting around it. Conflict is especially common if there are lazy coworkers present. Once again, after you have finished venting, you need a useable plan, not a fantasy.
Believe it or not, communication is often sufficient to defuse many difficult situations in which you find yourself (hence, the importance of clear language skills, as outlined previously! (click here)). The hardest thing is to be civil to someone when you feel wronged by them. But it is vital to make at least one sincere effort, to maintain your moral position. Others in your workplace, whether obvious to you or not, will be watching you!
(Your supervisor may or may not be aware; that discussion comes later.)
If you’re lucky, the offender may not really have realized what they have done to upset you, in which case, you’ll likely achieve a swift and peaceful resolution. You may even make a new ally. Avoid personalizing accusations against the other person (e.g. “You did this” or “You are such-and-such”) but rather state, as neutrally as you can, what circumstances are troubling, and how.
It is useful to use “I” statements, such as “Noisy conversations interfere with my ability to work, as I cannot concentrate”.
Unfortunately, this peaceful result seems less and less likely nowadays in most western societies… in which case you may feel as though you’ve been verbally dragged over two miles of bad road covered with thumb tacks, and then dipped in iodine.
Avoid partisan politics. Getting other coworkers onside must not be an active process of trying to “make your side bigger”. If you can find one or two sympathetic listeners, it’s a good start. But be the better person; you need your reputation intact (especially in this age of instant social media), even if you have to leave.
But… if you ever have to escalate the matter, there are things to remember!
- Bosses HATE having to settle conflicts. Period. Hence, it was vital to have made that one sincere effort to achieve peace. A good boss will credit your attempt; if not, you may have to consider finding a new boss… and therefore, even a new position.
- If you are a newcomer, especially a younger person, you’re almost certainly at a slight disadvantage, as you will be scrutinized more deeply. So err on the side of respect, as your reputation needs to be built. Good news: you’ll be given exceptional credit for maturity!
Frankly, supervisors are so accustomed to dealing with unreliable and unpolished personalities, that they will often (prejudicially and wrongly) assume that a younger worker may be less mature. So, when you shatter these stereotypes, you’ll look even better! 🙂
Always, always take the high road.