10 ways to confront a coworker
A large part of our work and productivity depends on the work environment we get and how well we get along with our coworkers, which is why having a peaceful and encouraging work environment helps motivate employees to do their best. But there could be times when the peaceful work environment is disturbed by some coworker conflict. It could be due to any reason—for delegating work that was assigned to them, for not meeting the deadline, or for some other reason. But how can we confront a coworker responsible for all this?
The tensed environment will not only affect the work of the people involved in the conflict but may also have an indirect effect on people around you. And that is the reason why the conflict has to be dealt with and the issue has to be resolved. Conflicts are inevitable, the only option you have is to the fact the conflict and come up with a solution that is a win-win situation for both of you—in a positive, professional way.
Confronting a colleague isn’t always easy, but it is possible. Here’s how to keep calm, address the issue, confront the coworker, and build stronger relationships with them at the workplace.
1. Analyze the issue
First things first, you have to define what the issue is, and with whom you have a conflict. Find the exact problem first, analyze it so as to know what exactly is causing the conflict. Make sure you do not confront a coworker without knowing yourself what the issue actually is.
Give them the benefit of doubt
Do not jump off to conclusions before you even confront the person. Start with the assumption that others may have acted with the best of intentions, and that you may not be aware of the complete story. If you assume that the coworker is in the wrong and have no idea of their side of the story, resentment builds before you get to talk to them. If there is a conflict, go talk to the person before this resentment builds.
Do not write an email
It is always better to talk to a person face-to-face rather than write an email stating how their actions or words upset you. Very few people enjoy confrontation, and most of us do what we can to avoid it, which is why sitting behind the computer screen and sending them an email would seem like a safer option. Unfortunately, this only aggravates the problem. Your email may be received and interpreted in a hundred different ways.
Ask the person to discuss the conflict
You cannot directly barge into a person’s cabin and start talking about how their actions or words upset you. Before you even get to them, tell them that you wish to talk to them, ask them for a good time to discuss things, tell them that you wish to do it privately so as not to create a scene, and then confront the person.
Talk to the person
Before the conflict goes out of hand and becomes the talk of the town, sit down with the person and talk to them. Tell them what the issue is and try to settle the conflict and move on among yourself. Find a time to sit down privately with your colleague and talk with them about your concerns. Explain how it made you feel and try to offer a solution so that it is a win-win situation for the both of you. Do not dwell on the offense and talk constantly about how they hurt you. Try to focus on finding a solution together. This way, you can gain the trust of the person and resolve the issue quickly.
Do not be rude
When you sit down to talk to the person, do not use harsh words. Make sure you do not confront the person in anger and be rude when you talk to them. This will create a further mess. Do not be sarcastic. You need to be firm, but polite. Just discuss the issue and arrive at the conclusion in a peaceful manner.
If the issue goes out of hand, involve a higher authority
If you are unable to resolve the issue and it is getting out of hand, write to a higher authority. Or speak to them to bring the issue to their attention. The higher authority may be able to guide you with how to solve the conflict, or may take charge of things and settle the issue between the two of you in a professional manner, without leading to any future conflicts.
Address one thing at one time
If you are upset about how things have unfolded, you might want to go on a rant. Dig out all the wrong things that the coworker did and discuss it at length with them. Avoid this. While you discuss the matter, talk about the one issue that upset you right now, and don’t unfold the whole list of problems in front of the person. Focus on one biggest issue and do not move off the track.
Think about the future
Always remember, you will have to continue to work with this colleague even if your issue does not get resolved. That makes it even more important for you not to lose your cool and be polite when you speak with the person. Make it a mutual effort. Both of you should lend suggestions to avoid such a situation to repeat itself. Come up with a proactive and a proper professional plan so that this issue does not come up again in the future.
Pick your battles wisely
It is not necessary that you confront a coworker every time there is an issue. You cannot expect all your colleagues to behave in the way you want them to. Save your energy for the real problems.