02 Oct 2018

Managing Conflict on The Job

If you never have miscommunication or people mishaps at work, you’re lucky. The reality is most people will face some sort of strife when it comes to a boss, co-worker, or subordinate. What you do with that conflict says a lot about how things will proceed after the sticky situation.

The hosts on ABC Minneapolis’ Twin Cities Live asked me to share some Own Your WOW! tips with their viewers. Watch segment here. Key zones to always keep in mind are cultural differences, work style differences, and gender-related barriers.

Cultural Differences: This might cover various workplace cultures–current or past, differing birth places or where people grow up, as well as a number of personal traits. These all contribute to a tapestry of personalities and customs. Don’t assume someone will approach a situation in the same way you might. Open lines of communication are key.

Work Style Differences: Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or some combination, how you approach your work day might be very different from a co-worker. Be sure to understand from the outset what is expected of you from your management. If you are a manger, set clear parameters for your team. Respect differences of opinion and ways people can teach one another based on how they approach projects and the work day. With five generations in some workplaces, also make clear which form or forms communication should take place. Some are more comfortable with online messages or texts, while others prefer face-to-face. A blend is generally best. As a collective and individually, the form in which official communication takes place should never be a mystery.

Gender-Related Barriers: People are especially prone to freeze when it comes to gender issues these days. When in doubt, do not say or do something you think could be offensive. If you have past experiences with co-workers and know the type of humor they can handle, then you likely have more flexibility. Always stay within the law and what’s acceptable according to any employer manuals about workplace rules.

For additional tips, here’s my Perception Gap column to help you assess how you are viewed by yourself and others.

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