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Workplace Conflict

DO YOUR COLLEAGUES STRESS YOU OUT?

Sunday Night Work Dread ♦ Anxiety Symptoms ♦ Fear of being Fired ♦ Decreased Self-confidence

WORK-PLACE CONFLICT CHALLENGES SPECIFIC TO HIGH ACHIEVERS

1. High Achievers are problem-solvers. They often think they should be able to problem-solve people as well.

2. High Achievers are tenacious and dislike admitting defeat. This tenacity makes them vulnerable to staying in toxic situations for too long.

WORKING HARDER DOES NOT RESOLVE WORK-PLACE CONFLICT

–Dr. Tricia

WORKPLACE CONFLICT STORY

Jay is a highly motivated, high performing professional. Recently, he was assigned to a new manager. The manager seemed on top of her game and a straight shooter at first. After the first few weeks, Jay noticed the manager tended to minimized Jay’s work and expertise. The manager would be critical and nice in the same situation, leaving Jay unnerved after many interactions.
Jay didn’t want to make waves. He had worked at the company for 10 years and had previously received a lot of praise, both within his department and company-wide. Jay didn’t want to leave the company prematurely but became concerned about the viability of staying there. He had no previous experience with his manager’s type of personality and wondered if he was handling it the right way.
First, I listened to multiple examples of Jay and his manager’s interactions. Specific examples helped me to understand the dynamics involved. I provided information to help Jay understand the personality of his manager. It was crucial that he knew how to predict her next actions and how to respond to them. After we delineated a set of specific responses he could use in dealing with her, we then assessed the overall company environment. Jay needed to look at the company’s system as a whole to best assess whether dealing with this manager would be a bump in the road or the beginning of a downward spiral. Jay also had some personal baggage that affected his confidence in the situation, and we worked on removing this.

COMMON MISTAKES:

 1.  High achievers can under-estimate the toxicity of people with personality disorders. People with personality disorders can be very intelligent and can initially come across as competent and as a team player. Because of this, many high achievers ignore the red flags and either believe that they are at fault for the negative interactions or continue to expect the person to change.

2.  High achievers usually value hard work and goal achievement over work-place “politics.” They may make the mistake of thinking that they can just “not play the game.” In work-place conflict, knowing and responding to the relationship and personality dynamics at hand is crucial to both protecting oneself and being able to tolerate the situation.

3.  Working harder will not solve work-place conflict.

4.  High achievers who are nice and reasonable tend to assume that this style wins the game. It does…usually. It makes you a target in toxic situations.

STRATEGIES TO COPE WITH WORKPLACE CONFLICT

  1. Learn others’ motivation. What motivates the difficult person? Power? Attention? A need for drama? Try to figure out what is important to them so that you can build a strategy based on their personality.

2. Develop specific strategies. Discuss the situation with trusted friends and advisors. Use their feedback and your knowledge of the work dynamics to develop a short-term action plan for daily coping and a long-term plan in case the situation does not improve.

3. Protect yourself. Be sure to surround yourself with positive social support, both at work and outside of work. Protect yourself professionally by documenting incidents. Protect yourself personally by maintaining a strong exercise, nutrition and self-care regimen.

4. Assess the system.  Is the system toxic? Do the leaders have the courage to fire toxic people? If they don’t, it is unlikely that the culture will change. Assessing the system is helpful in understanding your limitations and your next steps.

MAYBE IT’S NOT YOU! What are you going to do if it’s not you? Are you going to keep trying to fix it to prove that you can?

(Hint: This is not a smart strategy.)

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