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Rows at work – ideas to change things

Friction in working relationships can be a part of your working life at times, although hopefully not in a bad way. People have different priorities and viewpoints. But sometimes you can find yourself in a situation where the dispute goes on and you cannot see a way out.

It might be an issue about a piece of work involving a colleague or manager – or it could be their behaviour towards you. If you’ve tried muttering “count to ten and let it go” so many times that it isn’t working anymore, then here are some suggestions for other options.

1 Try something different

If the person you’re arguing with is not hearing you and you’re just repeating a pattern of getting angry when you try talking to each other, then try something else. Perhaps an email as a first step, where you can calmly and neutrally set out your thoughts. Keep it brief and try to avoid anything that comes across as repeating the argument. Or think about ways to explore the issue at any meetings when other people can join the conversation and share their views too.

2 Ask someone else

Is there another person who can help you get back to a calmer working relationship? A manager, colleague or HR. The best approach is not to make people think you want them to take sides, but to help resolve a tricky situation and especially if you seem positive about doing this. If you decide to speak to HR or another manager, you could start by asking for the conversation to be confidential until you’re sure how things are going to go. It’s worth a shot: they might be able to help. Discussing the issue with them gives you a fresh person’s perspective too, in case you’ve got so caught up in the dispute that you might have lost sight of what matters – and how to find a way back to it.

3 Raise a grievance

A grievance is a formal complaint and any employee in any kind of company can raise one. It’s a legal right. The employer has to follow a similar process to a disciplinary: ask a neutral manager to consider the issues and have a meeting with you, where you can set out your points clearly – as well as anything you prefer to put it writing. You can see more guidance about grievances here from a manager’s point of view and from an employee’s perspective. The key thing to decide is: what do you want the outcome to be? Are you asking for the person to be reined in or do you just want the situation to calm down so that everything can go back to normal?

4 Does it matter?

This is a tough question to ask yourself, if things have become heated. But we work with all kinds of colleagues during our lives including a mix of lovely, dull, interesting and horrible people. If it’s about somebody’s behaviour, you should think whether or not they are likely to change – or if it’s just what they are like and you have to just work on reducing contact with them as much as you can. If it’s a misunderstanding, that can be resolved (see steps 1 and 2). If it’s a work issue where you have completely different views ask yourself this: does it matter? If you’re sure you’re right, then how about letting it play out along the way the other person wants and seeing what happens? Obviously these suggestions are just things to consider and depend on whatever your circumstances are.

5 It’s just a job

Sometimes people get so caught up in a situation that they forget this: it’s just a job. Getting out of there and working somewhere else is always an option. It’s not about winning or losing – it’s just the right thing to do, if you’ve reached a point where you don’t want to go into work. After all, you spend more time with work people than your friends and family, so you shouldn’t force yourself to keep spending all that time if it’s making you miserable, angry or stressed. Find somewhere else that makes you enjoy the time you spend at work.

By Brian

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