6 Ways to Overcome Difficult Situations at Work

No matter how much you love your job, there’s going to be difficult situations at work where you and your teammates don’t see eye to eye. The fear of keeping up appearances and avoiding conflict usually causes us to bury the problem until it becomes so huge it can’t be ignored. It’s much easier to deal with conflict if you’re familiar with the different options you have.

Here are six ways to overcome difficult situations at work and handle conflict effectively:

1. Acknowledge Your Emotions, But Don’t Let Them Dictate Your Behavior

Despite your best efforts, you can’t avoid reacting emotionally to stressful situations. It’s important to acknowledge your emotions and be aware of how they’re influencing you to act. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you need a criminal lawyer. Getting overcome by emotion ruins your decision-making ability. Always try to take a moment to gather your thoughts before making any decisions.

If you’re having trouble gathering your thoughts, try writing them down. Putting your thoughts on paper will help put the problem in perspective. Thinking through the problem will help you build patience during difficult situations at work.

2. Don’t Take Difficult Situations at Work Personally

Difficult situations at work can happen to everyone. Accepting that the problem is occurring is the first step to resolving it. Asking “why me” only creates more animosity between you and the other person. Don’t let your emotions put you in a mindset where you think it’s up to the other person to solve the problem. Chances are you’re going to have to take the first step to resolve the issue by extending an olive branch.

3. Life Is Rarely Fair

If you focus on what’s fair and what “should be,” you’re just going to feel angry at yourself and everyone involved.  When dealing with workplace conflict, your goal should be to resolve the issue. Feeling outraged and holding out for what you feel is “owed” to you only makes the situation worse. Letting go of the idea of a “fair” resolution makes it easier to accept the outcome of these situations.

4. Don’t Make Assumptions

Making assumptions is a sure-fire way to throw yourself deeper into conflict. Nobody likes when another person assumes something of them. We make assumptions because they’re easier than asking questions and doing our homework.

Instead of assuming, work with the end in mind. Ask questions that will help the other person change their behavior. Ask yourself what you want to other person do to differently and how you can help them. Asking yourself these questions makes it easier to have positive interactions instead of assuming the person doesn’t want to do anything to resolve the problem.

5. Identify Your Objective

As mentioned above, knowing your objective makes dealing with conflict much easier. If you just have a conversation with the other person with no goal in mind, chances are nothing is going to change. Identify your desired outcome and outline some things that are non-negotiables for you. When you end the meeting, both parties should know what actions to take actions and where to go if they need support.

6. Use Silence In Difficult Conversations

Whenever you’re discussing conflict, silence moments are going to occur. Don’t shy away from them. Silent moments are an opportunity to think and help the conversation maintain a calm feeling. If you just steamroll your way through the conversation the other person is likely going to feel like they weren’t heard. Although the silence may make you uncomfortable, it can be helpful to give people a moment to gather their thoughts before they respond. Try not to have an overbearing impact on the conversation, especially if you’re in a leadership position.