Personalities can and do cause conflict, and in the workplace we often have no choice but to continue to work alongside the colleagues, whether peer, superior or subordinate, with whom we have the conflict …

There is no way that you can ‘change’ either party’s personality to eliminate that ‘personality clash’, so we have to deal with the situation so that there is no or minimal negative result from that ‘personality clash’.

A mandate from your superior instructing the two of you to ‘get along’ may not be very effective as a solution between you two.

As set out by authors Aysha Schurman, and Carol Fredrickson, try the following:

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Think about the situation first

Be sure you understand all of the issues involved in ‘personality clashes’. Be aware of the things that your co-worker does that annoy you. Do not respond to specific situations without giving it thought. Not thinking first may cause you to react rather than act.

Consider your role in the situation

Be honest and admit any behaviour that you may be exhibiting that contributes to, or escalates the conflict. Once you’ve identified the apparent clash ‘triggers’, try to devise ideas that allow you to achieve a compromise and work together. If you can figure out your role in the dynamic you’ll learn something important about yourself. Focus on what you can do differently.

Be honest and admit any behaviour that you may be exhibiting that contributes to, or escalates the conflict. Once you’ve identified the apparent clash ‘triggers’, try to devise ideas that allow you to achieve a compromise and work together

Stay calm at all times

Remaining calm helps both sides stay focused and purposeful. Acting calm and mature will gain you respect and make you more effective. Resorting to ‘cheap shots’ or belittling language will not relieve the situation, but will probably escalate it.

Use cooperative communication and words

The language you use is very important. Establishing guilt or innocence is not relevant. Accomplishing a peaceful resolution to ‘personality clashes’ to improve your job satisfaction and productivity are the only goals that matter.

Use communication such as “I’ve noticed that we seem to have differences. I have some ideas about how we might be able to work together more effectively and I would like to hear your thoughts.”

Invite them to be a part of the solution and really listen to their ideas. If you are unable to communicate either because you are too angry or the other person is too angry, then walk away gracefully rather than standing your ground and allowing things to escalate.

Focus on the other person’s strengths

Remind yourself of the contributions that the other person brings to your company or your team. When things are going badly, we have a tendency to focus on what doesn’t work and all of the negatives. Focusing on the positive helps us to at least get back to a neutral space and look at things a little more objectively.

Distract yourself from the immediate conflict situation

Viewing the situation as something other than it is, will allow you to retain your self-control and assist the situation rather than escalate it.

Identify an acceptable compromise

Finding a middle ground compromise is vital to resolving workplace controversies with co-workers. Only an agreeable compromise will foster a healthy on-going workplace relationship.

The good news: This result always works. The bad news: Proving that you’re right and the co-worker is wrong solves nothing.

Flexibility and accepting the other party’s position (however incorrect) will help resolve ‘personality clashes’. Remember, you’re dealing with personality, not factual, issues. Proving the fallacy or inappropriateness of another’s behaviour will not achieve your goal of diffusing ‘personality clashes’. However, finding common ground, around which you can achieve a compromise with a co-worker, will diffuse conflicting situations.

Respect and maintain privacy at all times

The mantra, ‘praise in public, criticise in private‘ is never more important than when you’re trying to resolve personality clashes. One-to-one talks focused on resolving workplace conflicts should always take place in private. Having your talk with your co-worker in a private setting will help minimise the rumour mill.

There are so many more ideas to share. Contact info@theofficecoach.co.za if you would like a partner to help you with this.