Dealing with toxic work atmospheres and how to resolve your animosity in work is far from an enjoyable experience for anyone. It can even create a toxic environment for co-workers not directly involved in the disagreement; it can demotivate your productivity, and ultimately, serious conflicts can have serious consequences.
Now that many of us are working remotely communications can easily be miss understood.
Even those attending work premises, there is now the added complication of communicating beyond the mask. As suggested by Sandy Ong in her article written for the BBC How Face Makes Affect our Communications, Sandy points out as humans we rely on the whole face to build the picture. "Since our earliest days, human beings have been incredibly attuned to reading the facial expressions of others"
Imagine too how it must be for individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants. The wearing of masks muffles sound, making it more difficult to understand speech, higher and lower-pitched voices. ... Speaking with a mask on can be difficult for others with communication problems, like aphasia or other voice problems.
Perhaps you see a fiery argument between two colleagues. Or you notice an awkward atmosphere in one of your teams. These disputes are plain to see. But some contrasting styles can be more difficult to recognise.
Here are some less visible signs that could indicate employee grudges:
Drops in productivity. Disharmony might make employees:
Perhaps your customer service or Net promoter score has travelled southwards?
What are the most common conflicts in the workplace?
What are examples of workplace conflict?
Disagreements within business can be between members of the same team, cross-departmental, or they can even transcend hierarchal lines and be between a member of staff and their superiors.
A few grudges may even go away on their own, but many stick around and will take some effort to be resolved. Either way, this is not the time to ignore the 'elephant in the room' as its likely to get worse!
What causes conflict at work?
There are many different things that could potentially cause tension in a company. There may be a specific situation that has caused fallout such as a disagreement on a project or over a customer.
But there are also there may be some wider-picture issues at the root of the problem such as periods of business or management change or low team morale.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint a specific moment or cause, and many instances can become contributing factors if left to build up over time. Many times, in fact, the disagreement may not even be a disagreement at all. Misunderstandings and ineffective communication can cause just as many clashes. What is important is how you resolve the situation in a productive manner.
Why you should stop avoiding conflict in the workplace?
Avoid it at your peril! What can happen if disharmony isn't resolved? A toxic atmosphere filled with disputes can have adverse effects on everyone in the business, not just those who are directly involved. For instance, other colleagues may become uncomfortable and fed up of the uneasy atmosphere, which could have a serious impact on their morale and productivity.
This is also the case for the people who are engaged in disagreements. Being preoccupied with such matters can not only have a negative effect on mental health and motivation. Often leading to a decline in performance. Superiors may then have to intervene the consequences of which may threaten job security. This is why it is essential to deal with any disharmony quickly, efficiently and with positive results for all parties involved.
To help prevent workplace conflict:
You can put policies and procedures in place to help stave off and manage clashes. For more information see preventing conflict
So now we’ve discussed animosity in general terms, who it can affect, the causes and what can happen these situations are left unresolved. Now for the most important part, how to solve these disagreements.
STEP 1 – Decide what you want the resolution to be, and consider what the other person involved in dispute may want the resolution to be. You should always approach a difficult conversation with an idea of what you want to get out of the situation. Thinking of this end goal will help you stay on track throughout the conversation and keep your discussion points relevant.
STEP 2 – If you think that this is a very difficult situation that may not be resolved with a private discussion. It may be beneficial for you to consult your a supervisor or perhaps your HR department and brief them on the situation. It is not necessary to involve them directly in the resolution of discord, but it can be good to get some advice from a specialist or manager. Bringing in superiors to the disagreement too soon could create an even more hostile atmosphere with the other party, but asking for their opinion on the matter is acceptable (the other party may have done exactly the same).
STEP 3 – Approach the other person involved in an disagreement in a calm and respectful manner using a positive communication style. This is always best done in person as emails, texts or IMs are often misinterpreted. Also, ensure that when you approach the other person, you do it privately and not in front of other colleagues as this could cause embarrassment or awkwardness. Make sure your body language is confident, but not aggressive and maintain eye contact. Arrange a private meeting at a mutually convenient time and place. Have a dedicated space to try and solve the issue keeping the conversation separate to your usual activities and offer some privacy.
STEP 4 – During this meeting, tell the other person your feelings towards the situation and what you hope the resolution could be and then ask them to do the same. Understanding the other person’s thoughts on the situation will level your opinions and you are much likely to come to a mutually beneficial solution than if you were only concerned with your own feelings. HR Specialist and owner of HR Strategies Plus LLC, Kimberly A. Benjamin, says, “When people know that they’re working towards the same goal, then they’re more apt to participate truthfully to make sure that they reach that end goal together.” You then need to discuss what the obstacles are to achieving both of your desired resolutions, and how to overcome them. This will involve honesty and compromise on all parts.
STEP 5 – Put in place a plan of action where both parties agree on some sort of resolution and share the responsibilities of making it happen. The solution may not be the exact one that you had in mind when you first approached the person, but compromise is a key part of effective resolution. If this plan succeeds and this strife is put in the past and it no longer affects your workplace or workload, then your friction has been resolved. If there are still grounds for discord after this meeting, you may need to review the situation after an appropriate amount of time, and perhaps involve senior members of staff. importantly put a conflict risk assessment into place if you dont already have one.
Differences of opinion within a small business can differ where the impact of bad blood can kill production at a much faster rate.
Here's a look at five common types of controversies in the business that you could encounter as you grow your small enterprise. Source: yfsmagazine.com All very similar to the ones mentioned above.
Contention and personality clashes are sometimes an unavoidable part of our personal lives and our place of work is not immune to it. Yet disputes are not always easy to rectify.
As noted by Ruth Mayhew in the Houston Chronicle . Diversity trainers often observe there are usually more similarities between employees than not, albeit cultural differences still exist . Therefore it is important to strike a balance between dissimilarities.
We are all different, after all we live in a world where billions of people of various religions, faiths and creed exist. One commonality remains though and that is we are all trying to make the most of life and each one of us has something unique to offer.
Everything DiSC behavioural assessments help with improving workplace culture and builds better relationships by taking the time to understand your teams preferences and tendencies. More so now that there are many working in hybrid and remote ways.
Achieve smoother communications and reduced conflict.
Put simply, DiSC presents a non-judgemental assessment tool utilised to identify the differences in people’s behaviour. It can look at an individuals, a team of people and even help to resolve animosity, consequently avoiding potential frauds. Combined with training this profiling tool is designed to improve productivity, teamwork, leadership skills and how we communicate with each other counting external customers and prospects.
REMEMBER though: If you feel threatened, intimidated, or feel like being in disagreement is having an extremely detrimental effect on your personal life, work performance or mental health. Then involving a superior or member of the HR department is completely acceptable. So there we have it, a guide to resolving organisational friction and getting rid of a toxic atmosphere between co-workers.