Trouble with a work colleague – Let us help you

by | 15.06.23

You might experience trouble at work for a variety of reasons, including promotion opportunities, salary disputes, feeling a lack of appreciation and personal differences. When trouble arises realise that its not the end of the world and you don’t need to look for another job. Here is our advice:

Acknowledge there is a problem

Pretending that nothing is wrong isn’t the way to handle a problem. Begin by admitting there’s a problem that needs resolution. Acknowledge the conflict and the roles you and the other person have played in creating and sustaining the problem. Be honest with yourself about your own role in the situation.

Focus on the problem – not the person

If the problem is not personal, don’t make it personal. Put your focus on the problem and finding ways to solve that problem. You can’t change the person and you will likely continue working with them. Even if you don’t want to be friends with the person, keep your focus on the problem without making it a personal issue.

Take the initiative

It’s important to address issues as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming larger issues in the future. If you notice a problem then address it right away. For example you could hold a meeting to discuss the issue and work together to find a solution.

Talk it over

Choose the right time and place to talk. A hurried conversation at your desk between emails and phone calls won’t solve anything. Put some thought into talking to the person. You need an undisturbed location and time to address the problem properly. Don’t accuse your colleague or anything try to be neutral and professional in order to investigate the issue.

Listen to your colleagues perspective

When thrashing things out with a colleague don’t make it all about you. Be willing to hear them out, listen to their perspective and consider their feelings. Give them ample time to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences. If your colleague feels defensive let them express that. Let them talk without interrupting them.

Apologise for any wrongdoing

Apologise for your part in the problem. Usually everyone involved has done something to create and sustain the problem. Own up to how you contributed to the dispute and express regret and responsibility. Remember you are not accepting the entire blame, you’re taking responsibility for your contribution to the situation.

Resist acting on impulse

If your colleague says something offensive or hurtful, resist the urge to fire something harsh back. You might say something you regret or blow the issue out of proportion. If a conflict arises take some time to think it over before immediately responding. You may come to realise you misheard them or they didn’t mean what they said.

Involve your HR Department

Your HR Department can help you solve workplace problems. If the conflict is growing larger or you feel you want to resign over it that is the time to involve the HR team. You may want to involve the HR Department if the problem is personal or workplace morale is low for you and maybe even those around you.

Develop a plan for resolution

Once you feel like you’ve talked over the problem, propose possible solutions. Keep the focus on the future and how each of you can respond better. Find points where you can compromise or work on communicating more effectively. Create a different way of problem solving or working together, such as taking turns or writing things out instead of saying them out loud.

Follow through on your plan

Its not enough to just create a resolution. Both you and the other person must follow through on any agreed-upon action. Create a system where each of you are accountable. Depending on the problem, you may need to make some changes such as by changing your role in the workplace.

Resolving difficulties with a colleague can be awkward, but if you deal with the situation in a mature and responsible way they can be resolved, both for you and your co-worker. Learn from the situation but don’t ever feel you have to tolerate something you are not comfortable with and remember if needed HR are there to help you.

Good Luck

Angela Burton