How Do I Handle Confrontation in the Workplace?

Occasionally you will need to confront someone in the office, whether this is a coworker who isn’t pulling his or her weight, a person working under you who is slacking on the job, or a boss who isn’t giving you what you need.  Bear in mind that it’s important to go to others when they are doing something that impedes upon your work or your personal space.  It’s also crucial, however, to do so in a tactful way, so as not to infringe on their space.

Here are three don’ts to keep in mind when you are confronting someone in the office:

1. Don’t Get Personal

The minute you make something personal, the person you are confronting will go on the defensive and won’t be as receptive to change.  You also have the potential to create an awkward dynamic between you and that individual.  The only place to get personal when you are confronting someone is with yourself – tell them how you feel and how you can work together to allow the two of you to work more productively together.

2. Don’t Ignore It

You may feel that it’s easier just to ignore a problem when it arises, but the trouble with this is that if it continues to crop up, eventually you’re going to reach a breaking point.  Avoid storing away your emotions and unleashing them when something small happens, as this will only make you look bad.  If you’re not prone to meltdowns, that’s still no reason to try to bypass the confrontation, as the problem will only nag at you and make you feel unhappy at your job.

3. Don’t Get Emotional

It’s advisable not to fly off the handle the minute something bothers you.  Wait until you are in a better frame of mind and have some distance from the situation before you confront another person about it.  If you go to them in the heat of the moment, you might say something you don’t mean and end up burning bridges and damaging your reputation.

“Confrontation” is full of negative connotations, but it really doesn’t have to be.  It’s mostly about finding the right time and getting in the right frame of mind so that you can phrase your main points in a diplomatic way, and then it won’t seem so bad – to you or the person on the other end of the conversation.

How else would you handle confrontation in the workplace? Would you go to HR or just handle the situation on your own?

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