Whether you intentionally shook things up or inadvertently offended someone, experiencing conflict at work is inevitable. The amount of time we spend with our colleagues can result in the same kind of tension and stress that we have in our personal lives. There are times that some professional conflict is good; it allows us to see new solutions or innovate and elevate the status quo. Other times, we experience conflict with others that stems from misunderstandings, poor communication, or incorrect assumptions. These are personal, tense, and emotionally-charged situations that, if you're like me, you would rather have a root canal than address them.
My avoidance of conflict is a weakness - and a huge missed opportunity to positively impact the other person or people. Addressing conflict in a humble way (tough for me, I like to be right) is an amazing opportunity to forge deeper relationships with people. Here's why.
It's not about being right. You may line up all the facts and realize that you are right, and the other person is wrong or misunderstood. Unfortunately, that doesn't solve the problem. If you approach the other person and tell them how they made a mistake, the negative emotions they feel towards you will likely grow. Take a step back and forget about being right. Instead, figure out how to make the situation right.
Ask for forgiveness. You cannot make this situation right without asking for forgiveness from the other person. Regardless of whether or not you are "right", the other person has perceived a slight, and this warrants an apology. The best part is that it is so liberating to ask someone to forgive you. When they do, the situation is truly behind you.
Use it as an opportunity to deepen the relationship. My husband has shown me that when we effectively resolve conflicts, we are not only happier but we also have a deeper relationship and connection . We can joke about arguments or be more sensitive to areas that we previously didn't know were pain points. The same is true with your coworkers. Going through conflict and solving it together will deepen your relationship and the trust you each have in each other.
Do you experience conflict at work? If so, how have you handled in well in the past?