Avoid the landmines that can cripple your career.
Relationships are the glue that holds any workplace together. No matter what type of organization, healthy relationships are essential to establish trust between employers and employees.
But sometimes things go south and relationships start to crumble. It might be a firing, layoff, controversial leadership decision, or some other event that sends emotions intro the stratosphere. When this happens, it’s easy to fly off the handle and do something you’ll later regret. I’ve been guilty of this, and maybe you have as well.
However, there are ways to deal with workplace drama that will help you stay on the positive side. These five tips will help you stay out of the fray and avoid landmines that can cripple your career.
1. Don’t get involved in other people’s drama.
We men like to be “fixers.” We see a problem and want to make it right. But we have to be careful when it comes to interpersonal conflict. It’s easy to take sides or let others talk us into joining forces for their personal crusade. But the more involved you get in a battle, the greater the chance you’ll get hit with shrapnel. Unless you are directly involved, let other people work out their own issues.
2. Talk to people in person instead of sending an email.
Email is convenient, but it’s also easy to misunderstand someone in writing. This is especially important when it comes to sensitive or controversial issues. When things are going badly at work and you need to address a problem, talk to people in person if it’s possible. If not, do the next best thing and call them on Skype or the phone. It will clear up a lot of potential misunderstandings.
3. Don’t publicly criticize your employer.
When Jay Leno was on the Tonight Show, he constantly took jabs at NBC, his employer. That may work for a comedian, but it doesn’t work for the rest of us. When you’re involved in a conflict with your employer, you should not criticize them in public, especially on social media. It could come back to haunt you in the future.
4. Resolve conflicts quickly.
Most people don’t like conflict, myself included. It’s easy to let it drag on instead of dealing with it. But the longer you allow unresolved conflict to linger, the more it spreads like cancer. As far as it depends on you, try to resolve conflicts as soon as possible so they don’t get out of hand.
5. Don’t send an email when you’re angry.
A few years ago, one of my colleagues did something that upset me quite a bit. In my anger, I fired off an email that (in my mind) set the record straight and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right. About thirty minutes after I sent the message, I knew I had responded too harshly, and I had to apologize to my co-worker. I hope you don’t repeat my mistake.
It’s hard to keep you cool when things around you at work are going haywire. But above all, you must remain a class act. Any negative behavior can come back to haunt you. These tips will help you avoid those situations so you can focus on doing your best work.
Photo: Flickr/Josh Hallett
Would you like to help us shatter stereotypes about men?
Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.