One of the worst feelings in the world is going to work knowing you will be face to face with a co-worker you are in conflict with. That feeling of “keeping tabs on where they are so you can make sure to walk to your office a little quicker” or “using the restroom when you see them coming your direction” sucks. When we fail to address these issues taking action to rectify them we forfeit our influence and that is a loss a leader cannot afford to realize.
First, you must know that you to know that you are not alone. So many have experienced this type of conflict. In fact, there are most likely others in your work environment (depending on the size of your staff) who are in the same predicament. Second, this type of awkwardness can be overcome. Though the steps you can take are simple, they are not easy.
The Part You Can Control
In a recent encounter with co-worker conflict I learned a few powerful lessons that I would like to share with you. I am not naive to believe that what I am about to share are 100% fixes, but I do believe they can be sign posts to steps you can take which will lead to a God-honoring resolution and restoration.
- Identify the genesis of the conflict and put words to it. When emotions stay inside we lack clear vision to see a situation for what it really is. We blow it up internally and create an incubator where the issue grows into a monster. When you put words on paper describing the situation it humanizes both the events as well as the one you are in conflict with.
- As you prepare to speak with the person you’re in conflict with, reflect on what words you could use that will help communicate how you feel and your desired outcome. For me personally, I feel powerless when I lack the ability to articulate either my feelings or desires. Knowing what words I want to use before I speak with someone helps me feel prepared and prevents me from saying something I will regret.
- “I want to hit the reset button.” In my most recent conflict, I used the phrase, “I would really just like to hit the reset button on our relationship.” Having a go-to phrase helped me ask for exactly what I wanted. Develop a go-to phrase which can serve as the theme of the conversation.
- Realize that the situation has probably been difficult for the other person and try to lighten their load. This isn’t always possible, but when we consider the actions of Jesus, so many times he put the needs of others ahead of his own. Ultimately, he chose to give us what we needed by dying on the cross, rather than hold onto what he wanted which was relieving himself of the cup of death.
After you have gone through the above steps and given yourself time to adequately process and prepare, initiate in a face to face conversation. Do not use email, text, phone or anything else if a face to face conversation is possible. Skype works if the person is out of state. Be honest, be truthful, be humble and be compassionate. You may not end in agreement, but at that point you have planted seeds which you can water with intentionality. All the while, praying that Jesus would bring full restoration.
@DaveShrein address it right away. Don’t avoid it hoping it will go away. It may hurt, and be uncomfortable – but the alternative is worse.
— Shaun Miller (@shaunrmiller) September 30, 2013
What I’m Asking Of You
I would like to straight up ask for you to use the comments section below to answer all or some of the following:
- Have you felt alone in a conflict situation?
- What comfort has come from knowing others are experiencing the same thing?
- How have you experienced success in restoring work relationships and how has God used those relationships to further his kingdom?
Please use this forum to bring hope to other readers.