How to handle conflict in the workplace

People tend to underestimate the impact their every action has in the workplace, including their reactions to things other people say and do. As Dan Schwabel, world-renowned personal branding specialist says, “You are the chief marketing officer of the brand called you, but what others say about you is far more impactful than what you say about yourself.”

In other words, you might be very good at what you do, but if you handle office politics unwisely, it will get people’s tongues wagging, and that can do great damage to your personal brand. Impressions are long-lasting. Just one incident where you lose your cool and react badly to conflict can tarnish your reputation.

People love to gossip. Unfortunately, if you give them a reason to talk about your bad behaviour, you will become the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. Keeping your cool and learning to make the most of tricky situations will not only help you to protect your working relationships and enjoy a more peaceful working atmosphere, but it will ensure you protect your personal brand too.

Three strategies for managing conflict:

  • Turn enemies into friends. At the very least, try to build a relationship to the point that your colleague won’t talk about you behind your back. Don’t fake being nice, however. People can generally see right through false behaviour. If you can’t genuinely be friends, just be civil and behave in a way that will benefit your whole team. That way, even your rival can’t complain.
  • Make use of people’s passions. Remember that if you can turn someone who is adversarial around to love you, he or she will become your greatest brand ambassador.
  • Learn to let things go. Ensure you don’t get too personally impacted by happenings. Remember that it’s just work. What’s irritating today is probably something you won’t even remember a few months down the line. Try to focus on the behaviour and not the person, and keep things in perspective.


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