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Dealing with an Insecure Coworker at Work

Dealing with an Insecure Coworker at Work

At some point of time in all our careers, we will have to do deal with this issue, or a similar one – if most of us haven’t already. A work place is after all made up of humans, who are made up of complex emotions which can often be hard to understand. However, dealing with an insecure or jealous coworker is no piece of cake. It is worse when you know for a fact you haven’t done anything to invite the spite and jealousy you have been receiving. But is this a situation that is worth any grief? Absolutely not. Because it can be handled. And here’s how.

  1. Don’t antagonize the situation

    At times, when we feel we’ve done our best at helping the situation and still haven’t succeeded, we turn to the other side. We think that paying them back with the same coin might help, unfortunately that is hardly ever the case. Instead, hold your ground, keep calm and carry on. Never antagonize an already insecure person. When the time comes, you should be able to show that you’ve always taken the higher road.

  2. Try to introspect

    Could you be giving them a reason to behave the way they’re behaving? Your first reaction might be “no”, but spend some time thinking about this. Especially if you feel the situation is starting to really bother you. After all they say there’s never any smoke without a fire. It might even be something really small and insignificant. However, if you identify it and fix it, your problem is solved without any further damage

  3. Communicate

    Try speaking to your coworker directly and ask how you can help them. Tell them how of late you’ve been getting a sense of discord between the both of you, and it’s going to be difficult to work together if this uncomfortable atmosphere persists. The minute you start feeling as if whatever is happening is taking a toll on your work, speak up. Try to communicate with the person concerned directly to solve the issue. And if that doesn’t work, you might have to escalate it.

  4. Know when to escalate

    If you’ve done everything you can to understand and help the situation, and it still persists, escalate it to your HR manager. At first it may seem petty because if there is no “real” problem and simply a case of insecurity from the concerned  colleague. However, beware that these seemingly insignificant and petty issues can be blown out of proportion. Before you know it, you’ll be on the line of fire for something you’re not responsible for. In order to prevent it from getting there, know when to escalate the issue.

  5. Over everything else, be professional 

    Ways that your coworker will display his/her insecurity is by being rude to you, creating unnecessary hindrances in your work, not cooperating as a team mate, and even by spreading rumours and making false accusations. All of this might get a little tough to handle and accept, especially when you are not at fault. However, remember what will set you apart from the concerned colleague is how professionally you deal with the issue.

    Remember to put sensitive conversations on record so you can use it as evidence later, if required. Do give the other person the benefit of doubt that he/she might be dealing with something you aren’t aware of, and perhaps this misplaced sense of insecurity is stemming from there. However, remember that there’s only so much margin for error that can be granted. If you feel like a line is being towed, or you’re unable to give a 100% to your work because of this issue, flag it to the management.

    Want to know more about conflict resolution methods? Read our post on it, here.

Five Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for Managers

Five Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for Managers

Learning how to effectively and efficiently resolve conflict is one of the most important skills for a leader, and a manager. The work place is representative of a stand alone universe in itself. In which case, it is only obvious that it will have people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse goals and objectives in their minds. While diversity is a bonus, it can also lead to making differences more obvious. Which in turn could lead to conflict. Conflict in work place is an unavoidable situation. Imagining the existence of a completely harmonious  work place is just an idyllic thought. While conflict is an unavoidable part of the day-to-day functioning at the workplace, there are tried and tested strategies to effectively diffuse conflict, and your role as the manager is crucial towards the methods adopted for resolution of the conflict. Have a look at some of the best and most effective Conflict Resolution Strategies.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #1 – Practice on Building Foresight

Prevention is better than cure. Most conflicts can be predicted, detected and prevented in an early stage. To avoid matters from escalating, watch out for situations which feel like they could blow up into a potential conflict. This is where your experience and acumen as a manager comes in handy. A stitch in time could save the day.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #2 – Be Objective

When called upon or intervening to resolve a conflict, it is important to review the matter in an objective manner. Being objective in situations of conflict helps you think clearly, and helps you move towards a fair, efficient and speedy resolution. It is easy to assume one party as the victim, and the other as the perpetrator when things are taken at face value. However, that is where your role as a manager is crucial. Look at the whole matter objectively, taking stock of, and recording facts wherever necessary before making a judgement or pronouncing any decision.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #3 – Call for a private meeting

Speaking to the concerned parties at the same time and place while the matter is still fresh, can only cause things to get worse. A process of reconciliation should definitely be initiated, however not at the very outset. Call for a private meeting with both parties concerned and hear them out individually. This will help you get a clearer picture of the issues, and will also function as a cooling period for both parties. In a way, they get to speak what’s on their mind and that in itself is a crucial part of conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #4 – Keep it professional

Once a conflict goes down the personal route, it is a very sticky and unpleasant situation to recover from. It may be very difficult to stop an escalation in that direction, because the base of no conflict is wholly professional, whereas the base of all conflicts are definitely to some extent ideological. Ideological conflicts in turn, can quickly turn into personal ones. Your intervention as the manager is what stops the conflict from turning into a personal one. As a manager, keep your treatment of the conflict as professional as possible and avert/ reject any personal stabs.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #5 – Not every conflict needs your intervention

Understanding that conflict is a natural part of the work space is a lesson you will learn over time as a manager. Not every conflict will need your intervention, and it is up to you to choose which ones need your intervention. Allow for a culture where conflicts can be resolved naturally and mutually. That is how it should work for most small-scale conflicts. Knowing just when to step in is a managerial art, one that comes with experience and practice. But having faith that your team can resolve a conflict on its own is also a managerial art.

Being in a leadership position is not easy because there will be situations you will have to deal with, which given a choice you’d choose not to deal with. That is where the challenge of being a good and efficient manager lies.  How you deal with these issues affect the environment in the organisation, and the productivity and vibe of your team. Never hesitate to reach out to senior colleagues or mentors for advice on a given situation related to conflict resolution – keeping in mind the confidentiality of the parties involved, of course.

Have a case study or personal experience on effective conflict resolution strategies? This is the right place to put them out! Comments invited.

5 Pointers for Effective Conflict Resolution in the World of Work

5 Pointers for Effective Conflict Resolution in the World of Work

Disagreements and conflict are only a very natural part of your work space. What makes a difference is, how you deal with them. Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. How you manage conflict therefore, signifies a great deal about your ethics and the values you hold regarding professionalism. If your natural instinct is to avoid conflict at all costs, then know that you are not alone. Most people walk away, get upset or deeply stressed.  And that’s not good, it just prolongs the issue. Conflict comes into play when one person has a need from another person and that need is not being met. So, to be really effective at work, we must know how to manage conflict successfully when it comes up.  Here are 5 key ways for conflict resolution that will help you prevent the conflict from escalating.

1. Conflict Resolution: Respond, don’t Ignore

The worst way of dealing with conflict is by pretending it does not exist. This method seldom works, and you find yourself in greater trouble than you would, had you dealt with it head on. You need to acknowledge your involvement in the said conflict. Acknowledgement does not mean you are guilty of anything. It simply means that you realize there has been a problem and are willing to offer/ negotiate a solution. Note that we said “respond”, and not “react”.

2. Conflict Resolution: Don’t Play the Blame Game

As a common method for dealing with conflicts in even our personal lives, our first approach is to try to shrug off responsibility of the blame (consciously or subconsciously). Needless to say, this may come across as immature, especially at your work place. At times, we may do so rightly, because of our genuine lack of involvement in the reason for conflict.  Instead of passing the buck, say that you are aware of the problem and will do your bit to resolve the conflict.

3. Conflict Resolution: Use “Giraffe Language”

Giraffe language (or the language of nonviolent communication) is like Morse code for the world of work. It helps you deal with conflict constructively, while enabling you to express any concerns or criticism you may have in a pleasant or diplomatic manner. The first step to it, is inviting the person involved to proactively figure out a solution, followed by six sub methods – Observation (identify the problem in subjective terms), Apologize (for your part in the conflict), Appreciate (the other person’s willingness to proactively seek a solution), Consequences (understand the consequences of the conflict and its repercussions for yourself as well as the organization), Objective (discuss what could be a favorable outcome regarding the dialogue) and Request (set ground rules and request the other person to follow them, to avoid any such conflict in the future). To understand all these steps better, have a look at this superb blog post – here.

4. Conflict Resolution: Don’t Blow it Out of Proportion 

By doing so you actively escalate the conflict and thwart chances of a peaceful, proactive resolution. There are mainly to things you must avoid doing at all costs once you have acknowledged the conflict –

  • Do not overreact. Remember that you have to respond but not react. If you feel like it came your way suddenly, politely refuse to deal with it at that point of time. A nice way to say so would be simply saying, “Hi Annie, I am sorry that this has caused you inconvenience. I had no idea about the same. Can we please talk about it at a more convenient time?” Breathe, think and then respond.
  • Do not involve people who don’t need to be involved in it. This means respect the fact that the conflict is between you and another person, or a group of persons, and not anyone else. By unnecessarily involving people who are not relevant to the issue, you play a very active role in escalating the conflict.

5. Conflict Resolution: Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help

When we said do not involve people who don’t matter, we did not mean don’t involve people who do matter. When you realize you have done your best in trying to handle the conflict but are getting nowhere, approach the HR. Be objective and careful about this, and understand that there are certain things that need to be brought to the notice of the management. This would benefit both you and the other party, as well as the organization.

Being involved in a conflict or a confrontation obviously does not feel very pleasant. However, once you have dealt with it the best you could have, stop over thinking about it. Understand that it could and does happen to everybody in the world of work. What are some of the best ways you’ve dealt with conflict at your work place? We would love to hear!

And here is a video (from http://www.resolutionofconflict.com.au/) on conflict resolution for you – we know you will find it as useful, informative and fun, as we did :