If you have worked with other people for any amount of time, you have probably experienced moments of annoyance or frustration due to personality clashes, differences in expectations and misunderstandings. Even calm, mild-mannered people have their pet peeves and hot-button issues, so it is important to recognize yours so you can maintain your professionalism in the workplace during stressful times.
Use the following steps to explore what your conflict triggers are at work, how you react to them now and how you could manage them better.
Improving Your Professionalism in the Workplace
1. Recognize your personal conflict triggers.
No one is perfect, so don’t beat yourself up if you lose patience over seemingly small or insignificant details at work. Maybe you hate when colleagues talk more loudly than necessary on the phone or employees leave their desks a disaster when they go home for the day. Accept that you are going to have a different style than the people you work with and that some situations will be resolvable and that you will have to learn to live with others.
2. Examine how you react to annoyances.
Think back to the last time a coworker or employee said or did something that made you react negatively. What did you say or do in response? Do you feel your reaction was fitting for the situation, or do you wish you had handled it differently? How did it reflect on your professionalism in the workplace? Think through what you could have done better to remain calm and professional while addressing the problem. For example, instead of snapping, “Can you please keep it down? I’m trying to work here!” at your loud colleague, you could have explained to him later that you have a hard time concentrating when there is a lot of extra noise in the office.
3. Find ways to calm yourself down.
You need to develop a positive long-term working relationship with the other people in your office, so letting your temper take over is not professional or productive. Once you know what your conflict triggers are, you can learn to cool down before you address any problems. Before you let the sharp words out of your mouth or send the angry email, pause to consider the possible effects of your actions. How would the other person feel or react? How does he or she communicate best? Would your words damage your relationship? Take a few minutes to think about it, and once you have calmed down, you can talk to the other person in a way that will lead to a productive result.
How do you deal with your conflict triggers at work?