Navigating a disagreement between friends, family, or a partner is already hard enough, but when it comes to dealing with a situation at your job, matters become even more complicated. There are a number of surprising things to never do at work during a conflict, even if they seem appropriate in other contexts. Managing issues at your job requires an extra level of care, not only because you want to solve the issue as quickly as possible, but because you want to ensure you don't put your job in jeopardy, or create tensions with coworkers.
"It's important to be extra cautious in dealing with a work conflict because your job and reputation are involved — and we want to keep this as positive as possible — and maintaining good relationships is the core of your professional life," Tina Pettigrew, Director of Communications at Ellevate Network, tells Bustle.
Whether you're dealing with a situation with your boss, a coworker, or even someone you manage, you want to make sure your discussions go smoothly. This often involves strategies that may be different than when handling a conflict with your family or your partner. Here are seven surprising things you should never do during a work conflict, according to career experts.
1. Share The Blame With Others
If something goes wrong in the workplace, it may be tempting to point fingers, especially if it wasn't completely your fault. But it's still important to own up to your mistakes. "Taking responsibility for your own actions and being totally honest and up front about what went wrong and how you will correct it will make you a more credible person to work with," says Pettigrew. "If you find yourself looking to blame someone else — even if they did something that contributed negatively to the situation," then it may reflect poorly on you.
2. Be Vague About Circumstances
You might feel like you don't want to reveal too much when tensions are high, but the clearer you can be with your communication, the better. "Use direct eye contact," says Pettigrew. "Speak in complete sentences (jot down notes if you need to). Be diplomatic and positive, and never repeat something that you are not 100% sure is true." Having evidence like emails or documents to substantiate your side of things is also a good idea.
3. Downplay The Problem
Although it may be tempting to not bring an issue up, in hopes that it will resolve itself, if it is seriously compromising your work environment, or making your job more difficult, it's important you be upfront. "It will come up again," says Pettigrew. "The best way to deal with it is to be honest about it, address the issue in a fair and respectful way, and make a positive change."
4. Claim That Everyone Agrees With You
It's hard not to loop in others, especially when they support you, but avoid making a team member feel ganged up on. "This is a below the belt observation and simply mean spirited," career counselor Roy Cohen tells Bustle. "It is also an exaggeration. Most of your colleagues, even if they agree with you, would not be willing to actually verbalize these feelings."
5. Threaten To Cut Off Contact
When you're in a fight with a friend or a partner, sometimes getting some space can help clear up the issue. However, in a work setting, this can backfire. "When you are working on a project together or as a member of a team, you spoil it for everyone including yourself by refusing to cooperate," says Cohen. Although certain coworkers may be difficult to get along with, often you might have to continue to interact with them for the sake of your job. That being said, if a coworker is making you very uncomfortable, and their behavior can be construed as harassment, speak up and, notify your manager or Human Resources immediately.
6. Let Your Emotions Get The Best Of You
It's OK to feel emotional about a situation, but try your hardest not to let those emotions get carried away when facing a difficult circumstance. "We are free to express heightened emotion with friends and family, but unless a work event is truly tragic, then shedding tears [may not be appropriate]," says Cohen. "It will also raise questions about your ability to deal with tough situations when they are presented to you." While there is nothing wrong with feeling your emotions, it may be best to save them for outside of a work context.
7. Use Phrases Like "No Offense"
Although these terms may not be a big deal when you're arguing with a friend, avoid using phrases such as "No offense," and "With all due respect." "These terms are actually setting up another statement, which generally is not a positive one," says Pettigrew. "Instead of preceding your statement with these phrases (which are an attempt to excuse your disrespectful or offensive language before you say it), rephrase what you’re going to say entirely."
Work conflicts can definitely be difficult, but as long as you deal with in an honest, levelheaded, and professional manner, they can be resolved without any further issues.