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Everybody has an ego, and egos often lead to arguments. When a problem arises - in the workplace or anywhere else - it's often caused by a clash of egos. Person A has one way of doing things, Person B thinks their way is better, and the ensuing dispute means that things don't get done at all.

Mocking Bird Argument

Photograph by Chiltepinster

The main causes of conflict are poor communication and personal differences. OSR's Managing Workplace Problems training course is largely based around this maxim. Here are some tips to bear in mind next time you're trying to tackle a problem in your place of work:

  • Stay positive
    Remember, you're trying to solve the problem and make things better. Getting angry or being negative will most likely worsen the situation. and the relationship between you and the problem person will grow even tenser.

  • Remember, they're human too
    People have feelings, opinions, and - as we've already discussed - egos. When you're addressing a problem, you must do your best not to hurt feelings, bruise egos, or insult anyone's intelligence. Whether they're your employee, your colleague, or your boss, they're only human, and it's good to look at things from their point of view before you take action. Belittling the problem person or ignoring their views will only give them a reason to dislike you, and what might have been a simple difference of opinion will devolve into an unpleasant personal battle. Speaking of which...

  • Don't make a fight out of it
    If you can possibly avoid it, you should never let the dispute become a fightbetween one side and another. There isn't always a right or wrong answer, and if you can find some common ground, you're far more likely to arrive at a solution that makes everyone happy.

Essentially, the best approach is to address the problem directly, acknowledge that everyone's opinion is valid (even if you don't personally agree with it), and work together to resolve the issue. Don't fight tooth and nail to prove that you're right, and don't start thinking that the other person is working against you. In most cases, both parties will want the same outcome - that is, a peaceful, productive work environment - so try to look at the issue from both sides and remember that no problem was ever made worse by communication.

if you'd like to learn more about the effective handling of problems in the workplace, why not book a place on our Managing Workplace Problems course? The next course will take place on Tuesday the 22nd of October, 2013, so call 0161 838 5692 or email info@olivestrachan.com to book your place.

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