Dealing with Disagreements In An Open Office
Open floor plans and shared office spaces are the newest trend in building a sense of community and culture in the workplace, but with no tangible personal space and coworkers that don’t respect (or understand the concept of) boundaries, tension and arguments are almost certain to happen.
“Instead of letting frustration fester or spending your lunch hour on a venting session with your spouse, address the issues and hash out your differences.”, says Lisa Marshall, Human Resources Manager for the business consulting firm, PRIMUS Business Management.
“Understanding where communication breaks down and how to mend disagreements sooner than later protects productivity and is the key to creating healthy relationships at work.”
Marshall shares a few mindful tips to help support you in creating an efficient and pleasant environment in your open office.
DISAGREEMENTS ARE INEVITABLE
In any working space, disagreements are sure to happen. When addressed constructively, open and respectful discussions about opposing positions or opinions can lead to stronger collaborations and increased workflow. Whenever possible, affected employees should engage in calm and collective conversation to resolve their differences.
Start by identifying why you’re upset. “What happened or didn’t happen?” “Is this about a mood or internal offense or something specific and actionable?”
Once you are clear, determine whether you communicated your expectations plainly and decide if you want to address the issue. If so, approach your co-worker calmly, walk through the situation, discuss what happened and what could have been done differently. The objective is to pinpoint the breakdown so that you (both) are able to create a solution and talk about how to handle it going forward.
Note: Remain professional. Try to see things from their prospective and show them yours as well. Whether or not they are able to see from your point of view is out of your control. Remain solution focused.
WHEN PLAYING “THE BLAME GAME”, NO ONE WINS
I want to let you in on a little secret. Things often go wrong. When they do, avoid the temptation of separating yourself and placing blame. “It’s easier to blame because you don’t have to do anything – it isn’t your fault.” says Lisa Marshall. “Finding the culprit and washing your hands a situation is low level behavior in professional settings. Be responsible for your actions, as well as, your reactions. Remember, if a train gets derailed, no one is getting to their destination.” The main objective when a problem arises is to solve the problem. Acknowledge your own actions that may have caused or fueled a issue and ask how you can make it right or assist in making it right – starting now.
DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY
When you’re a child, the world revolves around you. We never really grow out of it. If somebody doesn’t respond to your cheerful “good morning” as you pass each other in the hall, you might think they don’t like you and are avoiding all interaction with you- when it probably has nothing to do with you. You never know what another person is going through internally that is causing them show up in a less than stellar manner.
Practice saying this to yourself: “this has everything to do with them and nothing to do with me”. Taking yourself out of the equation allows you to release the personal offense and see the miscommunication or breakdown for what it is.
Give them the opportunity to share their perspective by asking these two questions: “Is everything ok?” “Did something happen to upset you?” This may get the dialogue started and if not, respect their stance and gracefully keep it moving because there is work to be done.
SWALLOWING YOUR FEELINGS WON’T MAKE THEM GO AWAY
“If you never want to get into a disagreement, don’t ever say a word. ” Communication is a beautiful thing, but it has the potential of creating conflict, so we often avoid talking about disagreements for the sake of peace. In any relationship, avoiding communication is one the fastest ways to destruction. If left unchecked, resentment will soon follow and darken our view, but communication is the light at the end of the tunnel. Keep the lines of communication open. Be upfront instead of sitting on your feelings.
YOU GET TO BE SATISFIED AT WORK, HAPPINESS IS A PLUS
Listen up- eight hours a day may seem minimal but consider this: Within your lifetime, you’ll spend rough 90,000 hours at work and at an increasing rate, the lines between work and home life are becoming blurred. For many people, the biggest roadblock between them and their dream job is their mindset. When you’re feeling good, you’re able to focus and accomplish work at higher rate, which in turn fuels continued success but the work begins with you. Be the example of the type of person you would like to work with and share those expectations out loud. You’d be surprised how freeing that honesty can be and you never know who you could be inspiring along the way.