What To Do When You’re On The Outs With A Colleague

What To Do When You’re On The Outs With A Colleague

It is a sure bet that wherever there are people there will be conflict of one kind or another. Differences of opinion, clashing egos, and misunderstandings all contribute to these stressful situations. Are you at odds with a co-worker? If you are, there’s good news. You can probably fix it with a little effort and forethought.

First of all let’s agree that there are people who relish conflict and care very little about their relationships. I’ve met some of those folks and I was once even bullied by one for a short time. These people are toxic and the likelihood of turning that sour relationship into something sweet and friendly is at or near zero. You can only hope that the system will get rid of them somehow, and it often does.

Most people, though, want to get along and work together to get things done. They understand how much energy is wasted in being angry all the time. Nobody wins in these scenarios. Important work might get done, but would it be better work if everybody got along and communicated more effectively? Probably.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some ways to mend fences:

First Think

Find some quiet time in your day and give the situation some objective thought. How did this happen? What was your contribution? Be honest and think through the chain of events that led to the tension.

Don’t Assume

Author Scott Gornto, a licensed therapist, says that in the absence of the truth we all fill in the gaps with our own stories, our own version of the truth. We are wired to do that, but it can get us into trouble when we assume what drives another person’s motives or actions. Drop your assumptions and get proactive about discovering the truth.

Ask for a Meeting

Go to the other individual and ask to take them out for coffee or lunch. The office is not the best place to hammer out this kind of conflict. It’s too public and it has the potential for embarrassment, or worse. A heartfelt conversation in private is so much better. Hopefully they will accept your invitation. If they do, that’s a great sign that resolution is possible and perhaps even imminent.

Be Transparent

Let the other person know why you wanted to meet in the first place; tell them that your relationship with them is important to you and that you feel like it needs to be re-set.
Own Up. When you sit down together, own up to your part in the problem. One of the hardest things to do is to admit our own mistakes. It makes us feel vulnerable. But, it’s a critical element in repairing damaged relationships. You’re not perfect. Say so. Perhaps this will encourage the other individual to do the same. If this happens, it quickly builds a bridge, a powerful and healing connection.

Be Kind

These kinds of confessionals are difficult for everybody involved. Be kind. And most importantly, be discreet. Don’t share what you’ve heard in this visit. Keep it to yourself. Find common ground and then agree to move ahead.

Lastly, I would encourage you to act quickly.

The longer there is disagreement and strife the more difficult it is to address. People tend to dig in and keep score and over time the whole notion of forgiveness can be taken off the table.

Mending fences is important because great relationships and open communication are critical to accomplishing big things. Your career and the career of the person you are at odds with are at stake, and the clock is ticking. Why not take action and try to be proactive? Peace and tranquili

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