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Dr. Greg Segment Summary

It’s Time to Resolve that Pesky Conflict with Your Coworker

Dr. Greg Ketchum, 02/26/05

If you work long enough for any company you’re bound to get into a conflict with a coworker and whether it results in open warfare or a prolonged cold war an unresolved conflict with a coworker can make life at work pretty miserable. One of the absolute best things you can do for your career is to take the initiative to resolve that pesky ongoing conflict now. Here’s how.

First, here are some examples of critical mistakes and key success factors concerning conflict resolution.

3 Critical Mistakes

  1. Avoid the conflict and hope it goes away.
  2. Throw gasoline on it to “get back at your coworker.”
  3. Badmouth your coworker behind their back.

3 Keys to Success

  1. Confront the problem & get ready to compromise.
  2. Don’t lose your cool and don’t blame when resolving the conflict.
  3. Invest more in resolving the conflict than in “winning.”

Here are some action steps to help you successfully prepare for and manage the conversation with your coworker in order to resolve that conflict.

Action Steps

  1. Determine Your Part in the Conflict: Stand back, put yourself in your coworker’s shoes and figure out what your contribution to the conflict is. Take responsibility for it and correct it. Swallow your false pride.
  2. Make the First Move: Ask your coworker if they’ll meet with you to resolve the conflict. Get agreement on the timing and place of the meeting. Your goal is not to become best friends, but rather to resolve the conflict.
  3. Stay Focused During the Conversation: In the conversation seek to understand more than be understood, check your emotions at the door, use “I” statement, don’t blame, clear up misunderstandings, compromise, and thank your coworker for taking the time to work it out.

If All Else Fails And You Get Nowhere

  1. Escalate it to Your Manager: If you just can’t work it out let your coworker know you think the next step is to escalate the conflict to your manager to get their help. 

Remember, it’s your life. If you don’t take care of the conflicts you find yourself in, no one else will and they won’t get resolved.

If you’ve got work or career topics you’d like to see us address just send me an email at drgreg@talentplanet.com.


®2005 Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

Career Advice

Dr. Greg is the “KRON 4 (San Francisco) Workplace and Career Expert”

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