Whether your “office” is a physical one with staff occupying workstations in the next room, or a virtual one that has your team working for you all over the globe, communication in the workplace is hugely important. We are all humans and humans need interaction and positive communication. Yet it often seems like co-workers, service providers or even partners are thrown together, without a lot of coaching with just a wing-and-a-prayer that “all will work out fine.” Good communication enhances work performance, helps your workplace or online business run more smoothly, and generally makes for happier team members, staff and managers.
First you need to accept that conflict happens. I know we’d all love it if everything always went along smoothly without any glitches, but arguments, disagreements and differences of opinion will happen. Many business owners don’t want to think about having conflicts, so they don’t consider how to handle them ahead of time and when conflict inevitably arises, they are unprepared as to how to handle it. The first step is in understanding that conflict is normal (if somewhat unpleasant), and just a part of working with others. Part of good communication is handling conflict effectively. Here are some tips for dealing with conflict when it happens in the workplace.
- Stay out of it when appropriate. The argument or conflict may not involve you, at least not directly, and getting involved may only complicate matters.
- Avoid generalizations if you are pulled into the conflict, especially ones that use the words “always” or “never.” Be specific. When a team member comes to you and says, “I am always asked to work overtime and Suzie never does!” Ask for specifics. Is it indeed “always?” Or is this team member venting in a fit of frustration and it’s really only happened twice. Getting specifics will allow you as the owner or manager to find better solutions and defuse the situation.
- Make sure everyone understands: When you ask others to do something for you or assign projects, make sure the assigned is in full understanding of what you’ve asked them to do. This can not only head conflicts off at the pass, it can help save a lot of headaches if you clarify with everyone and ask if there are any questions. Also, keep yourself open to questions throughout the project. Once again, a lot of problems can be avoided by saving employees or team members from having to try and figure things out on their own.
At the end of the day, it’s all about connections. We humans need connection, and with connection come camaraderie and a sense of team. But if you have a team member who isn’t a natural social butterfly, it can be challenging for them to connect with others. If feasible, rrange for a social physical or virtual gathering on occasion to keep the lines of communication open and keep your team connected. Openly praise and acknowledge your team or staff and encourage then to communicate and support each other. Your business will only benefit from this activity.