Tips on Resolving Workplace Tension

Given that most of us spend the majority of our week in the workplace, it’s inevitable that sometimes tensions will run high. The more pragmatic people in the office might find it easy to keep things professional rather than personal but, for many, keeping emotion out of the equation isn’t always easy.

The real danger lies not in feeling – or even expressing – that emotion, but in consigning it to record by writing it down in an email-and copying in every man and his dog to boot. What may start out as a small difference of opinion can rapidly escalate into a war of increasingly unpleasant words-at the end of which it could be your own head on the chopping block instead of the person with whom you are arguing your well considered (at least to your mind) point.

In a cyber war of attrition it’s easy to forget the person on the receiving end of your diatribe is actually just that-a person. In the heat of the moment it’s also easy to forget that as soon as you’ve hit send you’re rather likely to have to face that person on your way to the kitchen when you want to make a cuppa, which can make for an awkward encounter.

With the above in mind, here are some tips on avoiding unecessary escalation of arguments in the work place:

1. Speak face to face as soon as an issue arises
2. Don’t succumb to the temptation to copy in your boss, your boss’s boss and the boss’s daughter to try and accumulate allies-if it backfires the only one with egg on their face will be you
3. If someone is winding you up via email sit back (or better still, get up and walk away from your computer), take a deep breath and think long and hard before firing off a retaliatory message that you will regret
4. Be professional – even if someone else is being anything but. That, rather than getting overcome by emotion, is the best way to earn the respect and alliance of your colleagues.

I wish I could say I always practice what I preach, but in this case I’ve still got a long way to go…

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